There’s immense positivity and high expectations when it comes to the freelance role in rebuilding the post-pandemic economy. Flexible employment is being seen as a viable option for businesses across the world. It will be interesting to see how this evolution benefits freelancers over the coming months and years.
Networking plays a key role for any freelancer as it helps to build a relationship with other contacts. In the long run this gives you a competitive advantage. Your network can be your most important tool for obtaining work because it allows you to create and validate a reputation.
Fundamentally, you need a network. Most people prefer to work with someone they know or who has been recommended by a person that they trust, someone from within their network.
Here are some key points of the importance of networking for any freelancer:
To build a credible stance
Credibility goes a long way to build a presence in your industry and further expand it. These networks tell others about you and your work which can lead to you gaining more clients.
To attract new clients
Networking helps to build awareness for your work and attract new clients for your business.
Freelancers need to have a continual process in place to find new clients in order to sustain and further expand their work and growth. Key to this is the understanding that not all your professional connections will need your services right away, but may require your service one day in the future.
This means it is important to not only build contacts but also maintain them. This will make you the first person people think of when they need the service that you offer or a friend or contact does.
To grow your skill set and knowledge base
While networking brings you more business, many fail to realise that networking also helps you build your skill set and knowledge. With more business, you grow your talents and further develop your knowledge base.
It also brings more demands which helps to strengthen your current skills. A well-developed professional network helps keep you updated with what is trending and the current requirements in your field.
To see problems from different perspectives
Beyond being able to get advice, a good network can help you collect ideas, hold you accountable, and improve your business skills as well as your personal skills.
Networking with other freelancers isn’t a competition, it’s a collaboration
Focusing on building a network of other freelancers who have the same experience levels in the same niche as you can be a hard slog, , but you can also benefit from the insight of those with more experience. Also consider lending a hand to those with less experience than you.
The positive side effect of collaboration is that you build reciprocal relationships in your network that form strong bonds. Giving help and advice to each other without any expectation can assist with this.
Strategies for building your own network
What does networking for freelancers look like? There are many strategies to help you build and grow your freelance network like a pro.
Commit to it
Successful networking starts with the right mindset. Decide that you will make a certain segment of every day devoted to building connections – either online or face-to-face. Then hold yourself to that schedule, keeping track of what works and what doesn’t.
Start close to home
There’s no need to jump far outside your comfort zone at first. Focus on making sure your friends and family members know exactly what you do and what kinds of jobs you can handle. Encourage them to spread the word among their networks. You’ll be surprised how much business can come your way through this simple step.
Make contact with past clients
If you completed several jobs for a particular group or company and had a positive working relationship, they obviously liked what you were doing. Why not reach out to them and see if they have recommendations for other potential clients? Or you could ask if they have any additional projects that could use your help soon.
Lend a hand
One of the misconceptions about professional networking is that it is all about what your connections can do for you.
As you’re building and maintaining your network, help your connections, even if they can’t do anything for you right now. By lending your assistance and support now, you’re creating a community of people who will want to help you in the future.
Use virtual networking
Long before the pandemic, social media was always a great way to connect with others. And the advice remains the same. Don’t neglect virtual networking opportunities. You can find varied groups of other freelancers online.
Be active on your social media and virtual conversations. Learn from others’ experiences and offer your own bits of wisdom when possible.
LinkedIn is a great networking resource if you apply solid strategies like finding and using LinkedIn Groups in your area of interest and keeping your completed LinkedIn profile up to date.
Join local events
Local events offer you the opportunity to network with businesses and other freelancers in your neighbourhood. It can create a close knit relationship that might spark some genius.
Attend trade shows
A change of scenery can boost your networking opportunities.
Targeting a specific industry can help you connect with the important people in that niche who may be able to connect you to clients. Even if you don’t end up with a long list of new business connections, you’ll get a deeper sense of that industry and can enhance your knowledge.
Find coworking spaces
Consider joining a coworking space to support your freelance networking efforts. Coworking spaces bring together working people who are often looking for the congeniality and connection of others. No better place to meet other freelance professionals.
Following up with your network in a timely manner will ensure all your hard work does not go to waste!
Networking doesn’t come easy to everyone, but it is necessary for career growth and success especially if you are a freelancer.
From the development of new contacts to the building of long-term partnerships, there are so many benefits to being harnessed with a strong network.