Networking Tips for Freelancers
7 Successful Networking Tips To Help Create Valuable Connections
Is who you know really more important than what you know? Most freelancers are familiar with the struggles before landing their first client — despite knowing that they’re often more than qualified. Like anything, it gets easier over time. But, creating lasting business connections through networking is essential to creating future opportunities for your brand. As the saying goes, “to plant a seed now is to believe in tomorrow.”
Here are some professional networking tips to up your networking game immediately.
1. Create and Grow Your Online Presence
Reaching out to others in your industry on networking platforms can build your reach quickly. Many of the mentors you follow will have a similar target audience to yourself, so take advantage by engaging with their content.
LinkedIn is a beautiful networking tool in this respect — the algorithm will point you toward publications and businesses within your industry. It will show where your network is reacting to other people in the industry you may never have been exposed to before. There’s no need to make immediate connections. However, it may serve as a useful method for discovering new people and businesses that you’ve never even heard of before that align well with the freelance services that you provide.
Despite the stigma, networking doesn’t have to be limited to LinkedIn. Depending on your craft, the best social media strategy may be different for everyone.
If you’re marketing professional services for businesses, LinkedIn is a great bet.
If you're an artist, woodworker, or other visual creative, platforms such as Instagram and TikTok could be the key to finding your target audience and moving your products off the shelf quicker.
Curate Your Social Platforms and Online Presence
An online presence — whether it’s a website, a profile on social networks, or an Etsy store — is about creating authority and trust with your customers. All freelancers will take a different strategy but being authentic and differentiated can help build traction for your brand. These connections create a more personalized experience for customers that can often lead to repeat purchases — not to mention the benefit of positive word of mouth.
Remember, networking isn’t a sales pitch. It can be as simple as complimenting someone for their work, letting them know you’re in the same industry, and how it would be great for both of you to connect for just that reason. Or share a client success story online and make use of relevant hashtags — this is a good method to get your brand or your name in front of more eyeballs.
2. Get in Contact With People You’ve Previously Worked With
It can sometimes be difficult to keep in touch with former colleagues from past careers as we progress through life. Nonetheless, keeping these friends and acquaintances is highly beneficial for maintaining and expanding your network.
Particularly in the early stages of your career, you’ll be surprised to see others start their own businesses or become thought leaders in their industry. Maybe you’ve even begun providing a service that could help streamline processes for a former employer — this can be an easy in when you’re already familiar with a business’s operations and how they do things.
3. Stay in the Know With Potential Opportunities in Your Area
Keeping up to date with what’s going on in your local community can be an excellent way to form new networking contacts. One such example is being active on community forums if you’ve already built a strong reputation at a local level.
Let’s say you’re a web designer and you heard from a friend that a new restaurant is opening in town. You can reach out to the owner to find out if they need help setting up a website before their launch.
If you’re targeting a specific industry, you’ll be surprised by the positive knock-on effects that can come as a result. Often, this can lead to further customers down the line through positive reviews, referrals, and recommendations.
4. Focus on Creating Meaningful Connections
Attempting to connect with anyone and everyone is a recipe for failure. Instead, position yourself to meet your ideal customer, partner, or mentor. Isolate your target audience and find them either digitally or in the real world.
Network in Your Market
Focus on networking with people that can benefit from your services and the types of businesses that you know you can get value from your services. If you stretch yourself too far, you could face difficulties with pricing or find that customers don’t appreciate your work enough. Other issues could lead to unwanted negative feedback for your freelance business.
A great idea for finding meaningful connections online is scanning popular groups within your cohort.
The Unlikely Network: Reddit
One of the best social media platforms for discovering like-minded people is Reddit. You may have heard the popular saying, “there’s a subreddit for everything.” Whether it's web design, videography, podcasting, or personal finance, Reddit has it all. These online groups are not only a great way to learn from others, but it gives you an opportunity to share your struggles and big wins, and start a thoughtful discussion in general.
5. Introduce Your Network to Each Other
Share your collaborations with your network.
Just completed a project for a client that was a huge success? If the client doesn’t mind, share it on LinkedIn and tag the people you worked together with. Introduce your network to the client, and introduce yourself to their network. This can act as a fast-track solution for meeting new people.
6. Practice Networking in Your Current Circles
You’ll be surprised how many referrals you can get by defining your expertise and specialties. Start with family and friends to help jumpstart your industry connections. Be open in your existing relationships and ask if they can share your work with people who may be interested where possible.
Make sure to become a master of memorizing names and follow up by connecting with any new people you meet online.
7. Come Up With a Few Ice Breaker Questions
You’ve dressed the part, and you’re all ready to go. But, where do you start at networking events? One of the top tips for networking events is to try your best to relax and not worry about having to ask "intelligent questions." Being stuck for conversation starters is an issue we all run into at some stage, introverted or not.
But, tackling this issue is a lot easier than it seems. Keep a couple of simple ice breaker questions in your back pocket, and you’ll make it easy to stir up a conversation with almost anyone. Here are some tips for networking events.
After introductions, a great icebreaker is “What brought you here today?”
From there, you can follow up with some questions that will give you a better sense of individuals, such as their work background, role, and industry experience.
Open-ended questions related to the gathering are easy for adding dialogue, story-telling, and permitting the free flow of conversation.
Sharing personal tidbits here and there about recreational interests can also be a great way to develop rapport and create memorable networking contacts.
If you’re intimidated, start with one-on-one conversations to ease yourself in before you get more comfortable.
Why Is It So Important to Build Relationships?
Networking skills are one of the key-value metrics for freelance businesses. They cement a stronger career path. Without them, you can face stagnation, limit your opportunities, and hit a standstill in growth. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so it’s a vital skill worth investing time and effort in.
However, implementing these key tips for business networking will help you build your freelance business and extend your reach.
Take the Leap and Grow Your Business
Building a contact list is one of the initial steps you can take to get the word out about the strengths of your product offering and build a name for yourself. Furthermore, there are several other methods to turbocharge your freelance business simultaneously.
One such solution is employing the professional and financial support needed to expand your freelance operations. Noumena’s services are specialized to meet the requirements of freelance businesses of all sizes. Reach out to learn how Noumena can help you now, or download the app on the App Store or Play Store to browse solutions.