As a freelancer, it’s important to keep plenty of avenues open when it comes to your professional network. From potential new clients to people who can help with marketing, finances and other matters, the wider your network, the greater your chance of success as a freelancer can be. Here are a few tips to help make sure you’re developing your network as much as possible.
When it comes to networking, particularly for freelancers, it’s important to think big. Don’t just pursue contacts in your own country – remember that freelancers are engaged by clients around the world, so think global when it comes to building up your business contacts on networking sites like LinkedIn.
Of course, it’s also useful to have a local network of contacts, so do some homework and connect with your local IT company, printshop, photographer, accountant… anyone and everyone whose services you could one day need to use. Take their details in exchange for your own – you never know when your local businesses might need a spot of support from a skilled freelancer.
When it comes to online networking, building up a credible presence is essential. If your Facebook account is filled with pictures of you partying the night away then it might be best to keep that to yourself. Keep your personal and professional lives separate by using sites like Twitter and LinkedIn for work purposes, while saving Instagram for pictures of your children/pets/latest culinary efforts.
On your professional accounts, be sure to be an active member of the network. Share intelligent articles, comment thoughtfully on your contacts’ posts and publish your own posts. If you have your own website, why not publish a blog post from time to time, which you can then share across your networks. A small daily time commitment to this kind of activity can reap big benefits.
The business world is alive with events for freelancers, from international conferences to local breakfast meetings. Meeting contacts face-to-face is a great way to build your network and can also be extremely motivating, particularly for freelancers who find their role lonely at times. And if there isn't anything suitable in your local area, why not start your own group or event?
Networking is largely about confidence. As a freelancer it’s important that you push yourself to reach out as widely as possible when it comes to building your network. You never know when a particular contact will lead to a new opportunity or provide you with last-minute support.
How much time and energy have you committed to building your professional network? How has it benefited your freelance career? Comment below to share your experiences with us.