When it comes to growing a freelance business network, I’ve tried it all.
As most of the freelancers work remotely, hence building a strong network with your clients and co-workers becomes super important.
This ultimate guide for growing freelance business network contains everything that you’ll need to grow your business and ultimately help you generate more money.
What is networking?
According to the research featured in the Harvard Business Review, there are three types of network – Operational Network, Strategic Network, and Personal Network.
Each one of us more or less has some connections in every type.
Operational networks: Your formal colleagues, your work associates, members of any professional group or people from your career arena that you know among others fall in your operational networks.
Strategic Network: People from another career path, visionaries, and influencer groups etc. become your strategic Network.
Personal Network: Your personal Network consists of all your friends, family, and acquaintances, your social media connections and school or college alumni.
So, connecting with all your networks effectively and with an intention to sustain long-term good relations for sharing mutual benefits is what networking actually means.
Why is networking for freelancers so crucial?
Building good relations is an important aspect of any business be it with associates, customers, clients or potential customers.
It is vital that you have the skill to build and maintain good business relations.
Citing how lonely freelancing can get, it is best to come out your shell and that cozy cocoon once in a while and meet real people rather than just e-mailing them.
Social media is great, however, the impact that a face to face meeting creates is huge.
Also, it is easier to trust a known person as compared to someone whom we find online.
Hence, it is important to attend conferences, seminars in your respective fields, meeting likeminded people and connect with them regularly.
How Networking can benefit your freelance business?
Networking can be really helpful if done properly. Here are a few things that networking helps in:
1. It gives you exposure and opens up new avenues:
By networking with the right set of people, you get more visibility and your work gets a recognition among new people who are really valuable as they are from your field or area of work.
Attending networking events can help you generate ideas, give an understanding of how things work, how other individuals are dealing with their business, learning new things among other great stuff.
It is such a fruitful experience for every freelance entrepreneur who wants to take their business to the next level!
2. New clients and new ideas for income generation:
Networking can get you introduced to new people who can be your future clients.
Yes, sure they can! Networking events are meant to exchange contacts and build business relations.
You can network with people even at parties or other social gatherings. Have your business cards handy and you are good to go!
3. Create leads and prospect clients:
Even if you do not get any clients from the attended networking event, you surely would get some prospects and leads.
You have shared your contacts and introduced yourself to a bunch of new individuals who are also on their entrepreneurial journey, surely something is going to manifest for you from the association in the long run.
4. References are great!
You may or may not get direct clients from your network, but you surely would get a lot of referrals.
Someone from your network may refer you to their friend or colleague who needs something done that you are good at!
That is how you can generate good business via referrals.
Again, it is easier to trust a person referred by friends and family, so, you more likely are going to land a deal without any hassles. Referrals work great for freelancers in particular.
How To Make Your Network Stronger?
Strengthening your existing network or Building a strong network, is again one of the most important. The following tips may help you out:
1. Connect personally:
Do not just look at an individual considering him or her as a prospective client, try to build real relationships.
Get to know them, understand their needs and offer genuine help.
If your services can serve them in any way let them know graciously and do not market yourself as a product.
Listen to what your customers and clients want and serve them exactly that.
When you listen, you get to know their pain-points and hence you can work for them in a more effective manner.
When you are in a social gathering or a party, be genuinely interested in listening to people and make them feel good in your presence.
3. Build Trust:
If you meet someone at a networking event or a social gathering and happen to make them your client, serve them well.
Be supremely professional with your approach so they can come back to you when they again require your services.
Whether you are a freelance content writer or graphic designer, long-term clients always prove to be more beneficial.
4. Maintain Your Relationship:
Once you have relevant people in your network, you make sure you keep in touch and follow up.
If they have become your associates, work on building good work relations.
You can wish them during festivals, birthdays and anniversaries. Have a cordial and pleasant relationship with your clients and associates.
5. Be Proactive:
Don’t wait for people to come to you at events or parties, be proactive and you go to them.
Not everyone is comfortable with talking to strangers, so be the kind one and do yourself a favor, introduce yourself first and get the conversation rolling.
Initiate a conversation with new individuals and influential people and connect with them personally.
If you have a tough time talking to new people, here are the two awesome books that I would like to personally recommend you:
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
- The Golden Code – Mastering the Art of Social Success by Rukshana Eisa
Both of these books are supremely powerful and will teach you the required skills to ace the networking game.
Being a freelancer, it is indeed significant to have good social skills and soft skills so as to run your business effectively.
6 Effective Ways to Grow your Freelance Network:
Networking for freelancers should be effective and bring results. Here are a few ways in which you can network effectively and make an impression.
1. Business Cards:
Needless to say, you must design an impressive visiting/business card and carry it at all times.
Hand over your business card with a brief introduction of yourself and your work so that it has recall value.
You must also have your own web address, or a website mentioned on the card for them to check your full profile.
2. Elevator Pitch:
Keep your elevator pitch ready i.e. you must be able to explain what your business is all about in not more than a few sentences.
If you meet someone influential in a gathering, you may just have as little as 30 seconds with them to explain your profile.
Hence, be ready with your elevator pitch as well as a long-form script just in case!
At networking events or at social gatherings, be ready to introduce yourself in a short but an effective way.
As a freelancer, you must be confident enough to introduce and mingle with business people proactively.
4. Hosting Events:
Don’t just be part of events, host them! Yes, you can find some events happening in your locality or your city and volunteer to co-host it!
Again, volunteering can be a great way to be a part of the core team. So, offer to volunteer in organizing events or support social causes and get bonus points to add in your profile!
6. Networking Online:
Networking for freelancers can be quite tricky but you can also do it online without trying to come across as too needy.
You can comment on blogs, be present and active on social media, follow people, email with specific questions among other things to network online.
Most importantly be genuinely interested in people with whom you connect and do not forget to follow up.
To find online networking groups, search on professional social sites like LinkedIn.
There are many specific professional groups on Facebook and Twitter too!
I am personally in many media and writing groups that are super beneficial and post valuable information.
Search groups and communities related to your niche and get going.
If you are a freelancer and working remotely on your business, you must be feeling a little out of touch with your contacts, be it your friends or work acquaintances.
Freelancing is a lonely profession and after a while, one craves for human interaction.
Networking is a great way to get the zeal back and also help you fast-track your progress on your chosen career path!
Overall, it’s your genuineness that matters at the core and how good your people skills are!
So, now that you have all the necessary information on the subject, implement it right away and go out there to network like a complete pro!
Hope this article answered all your questions regarding networking for freelancers and how you can network effectively with all the relevant people to get new business opportunities.
Share this “Ultimate guide to freelance networking“ with your friends and co-workers to help them grow fast.