One of the main buzzwords that I was immediately surrounded by when I started freelancing was networking. There were articles written on how to cold email, people willing to give you 20-minute sessions on the importance of attending events, and general feedback on the importance of talking to people to get more work. It was too much for me, who hated talking to people, in general.
However, over the years, I’ve learnt the importance of putting myself out there and letting people know what I did. Networking not just helped me get more projects, which is the ultimate end goal, but I also got several ideas for the stories I wrote. From meeting entrepreneurs to women who lost their jobs only to come back stronger than ever, I’ve got them all on my contact (and article) list.
If you are a freelance content writer or just a freelancer in general, here are some of the best networking tips as a freelancer that worked for me, and may come in handy for you as well.
Don’t wait to formally network
We tend to think of networking as one big event where you need to put on your LBD and high heels, meet a crowd of people and impress each one with your wit and charm, and come back with projects. Honestly, I am yet to attend an event like that in the last decade. For me, the basics of networking started with an informal approach.
Instead of waiting to network at say an event or with a specific person, I started talking about my work with family and friends, and even acquaintances who weren’t from the writing field per se. Trust me, these are the people who’ve connected me with tons of people, helping me build a network of people, not just to get more projects but also work with in the future.
And as long as attending offline events is concerned, go with the aim to talk to people, and not to talk to people and get work. Trust me, it makes all the difference to kickstart networking like a pro.
Research before meeting people
Sound simple, but people don’t always do it. Sure you need to read up on the company, but it’s a good idea to also try and gauge the kind of work they’ve been doing and what do they exactly need. Prepare your elevated pitch in a way that immediately lets them know what you can offer to them, and how your services will help their company grow.
Also, ask relevant questions and if you are meeting a senior person, ask them about their own experiences and how it has helped them grow. You get one shot at this – make an impression! Even if you don’t get that particular project, they will remember you. This will help you build a network and create more opportunities in the future. This form of networking builds long term relationships and creates an avenue for new opportunities.
Stay in touch with everyone
A colleague of mine once told me about her hiring story where she, after working with the head of a company, then spent a year and a half emailing her boss about her achievements. While she didn’t get any response, the one time that they did meet, her boss happened to remember all of my colleague’s achievements and also ended up offering her work, on the spot. “Don’t be desperate for work. Just show enthusiasm for the projects you are working on and keep in touch instead,” she told me, and boy does it make sense.
You don’t have to always ask people for work. Sometimes staying in touch also ensures that you are on their mind when a project comes up. In fact, not asking for work, continuously, also makes the relationship more fun. Think about it would you want to receive weekly emails from people asking you how you are, and whether they had a job for you?
I’ve built a Super Network of sorts, where I’ve identified five-six people I really wish to work with. I am only connected with them on LinkedIn so what I do is try and attend events where they will are present, comment on their posts, and try and make some form of connection before I ask for a meeting or project.
Give a little to get a lot
As simple as it sounds, this one takes some amount of work. Instead of expecting people to simply hand you the jobs, you need to build a relationship with them, that is beneficial to both of you. For example, instead of directly asking my ex-boss for some work, I made it a point to go for her first-ever book reading session. I genuinely enjoyed going there and meeting people, and she immediately put me in touch with two of her friends, both heads of media companies. We both won here – she got someone to cheer her on, and I made two possible contacts.
The point is, networking isn’t only about connecting with people for a job; you need to work hard to build and maintain these relationships. Try and be there for their big days, encourage them and be a part of their projects. Building a network through connections is the strongest and the most reliable form of freelance network.
Use social media effectively
Put your work on social media. Period. There’s no rule to follow here. Simply learn the art of effectively using your social channels, to showcase your freelance work, build your individual brand, building a network and stay relevant.
I know of so many people who simply got work because they used to post an update daily, and people remembered that.
Also, with the amount of time we spend on Instagram and Twitter, it would be foolish to not use it to showcase your work and get some projects. Try keeping one day in a week where you say put out a link to your story or showcase an image you’ve clicked or created. Social media can be an excellent place to network as a freelance and build relationships to help you get more work by showcasing your existing pool of gigs and opportunities.
Try these five basic routines and see how that turns around your networking game, Also, you are welcome.
Last updated 6th Sep ’21