You’ve decided to take the plunge into freelancing, with visions of working from a beachside cabana dancing in your head. But before you don your flip flops and grab your laptop, you need clients. Networking can help you make the connections to land that first gig and build a roster of dream clients. Whether you pound the pavement at local meetups or stick to DM’ing potential collaborators on Twitter, a strong network paves the way for steady work. We’ll explore proven networking strategies tailored to freelancers and remote workers. From leveraging LinkedIn to sparking organic relationships that turn into partnerships, you’ll learn how to put yourself out there to bring home the bacon – no matter where “the office” may be.
The Power of Networking for Freelancers
As a freelancer, networking is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal for finding new clients and collaborators. Whether at industry events, through social media, or just connecting with people in your local community, networking opens up opportunities to make valuable connections that can lead to work.
Attend industry conferences and events
Attending conferences, meetups, and other events related to your field is a great way to connect with potential clients and partners. Strike up conversations, ask questions about what others do, and look for ways you might be able to work together. Exchange business cards and follow up to continue the conversation. You never know where these initial encounters may lead.
Build connections on social media
Use platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to connect with people in your industry. Share updates about your latest projects, insights, and expertise. Engage with others by commenting on their posts, inviting them to connect, and sending direct messages to start a dialogue. Look for opportunities to collaborate by promoting each other’s services or working together on a short-term project.
Don’t overlook your local network
Your own community is filled with people who may need your skills and services. Talk to people at your gym, place of worship, children’s schools, and neighborhood events. Let them know what you do in a friendly, low-key way. They may become clients themselves, or refer you to someone else who needs your expertise.
Networking requires continuously putting yourself in front of new people and building mutually beneficial relationships. While it can feel uncomfortable, especially for introverts, it gets easier with practice and the rewards of finding meaningful work through your connections are well worth the effort. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, and soon enough, you’ll have a thriving freelance business built on the power of networking.
Online Networking Strategies to Connect With Clients and Collaborators
The Internet opens up a world of opportunity for freelancers to connect with new clients and collaborators. With some strategic networking, you can build valuable relationships that lead to work.
Join Relevant Online Communities
Seek out online groups, forums, and communities focused on your industry or area of expertise. Become an active member by posting your own thoughts and insights, commenting on others’ posts, and engaging in discussions. In time, you’ll develop a reputation as a helpful and knowledgeable member. When other members need freelance work done, they may think of you.
Build Your Online Profile
Create profiles on websites like LinkedIn, AngelList, and Upwork to increase your visibility. Build a robust profile highlighting your experience, skills, and accomplishments. Post updates, share blog posts or articles you’ve written, and join relevant groups to stay active in discussions. An optimized profile makes you more searchable and helps establish you as an authority in your field.
Start or Join a Mastermind Group
A mastermind group is a collection of like-minded freelancers who support each other. You can create your own group or look for existing ones to join. Meet regularly via video chat to network, share advice, review each other’s proposals or websites, and pass along job leads. Close-knit communities like these often lead to new client referrals and collaborations.
Comment on Industry Blogs and Podcasts
Look for popular industry blogs, podcasts, and influencers in your niche. Comment on their posts and episodes, providing value by sharing your unique perspective or experience. Mention you’re a freelancer available for hire. Some blog owners or podcast hosts may reach out directly with work or refer you to their followers and subscribers. Building relationships with influencers is a great way to gain exposure.
With time and consistency, nurturing valuable online relationships and connections will help you find new freelance clients, collaborators, and work opportunities. The key is to stay actively engaged in communities and conversations that are relevant to your skills and expertise.
Offline Networking Opportunities to Build Relationships and Find Work
Attending in-person events is one of the best ways for freelancers to make genuine connections and find new clients or collaborators. Nothing beats face-to-face interaction and the relationships that can form from it. Check with your local chamber of commerce, coworking spaces, startup incubators, and industry organizations for events in your area.
Industry Conferences and Meetups
Conferences and meetups centered around your industry or niche are ideal for networking. Look for ones aimed at freelancers, startups, or small businesses. Strike up conversations with people in your field, exchange business cards, and follow up to stay in touch. You never know where a new client or partnership opportunity may come from.
Coworking spaces are hubs for freelancers, remote workers, and entrepreneurs. If there’s one in your city, consider renting a desk or membership. Not only will it give you a professional place to work, but you’ll be surrounded by potential new clients and collaborators with similar business interests. Make an effort to socialize and you’ll build connections quickly.
Local Organizations and Nonprofits
Get involved with organizations in your local community like the chamber of commerce, Toastmasters, Rotary Club or a nonprofit you support. Volunteer your skills and talents, join committees, and network at events. Giving back is rewarding in itself, but you may gain new clients or find project work along the way.
Referrals and Word-of-Mouth
Don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth. Let people in your network know you’re available for freelance work and the types of projects you do. Ask happy clients for referrals to other businesses that may need your services. Referrals from people who know and trust you are an excellent way to find new, long-term clients.
Building genuine relationships takes effort, but can lead to amazing opportunities. Get out from behind your screen and start networking in person. The connections and clients you gain will make it well worth your time.
So get out there and start making connections! Whether it’s at local meetups, conferences, or online communities, put yourself out there to meet fellow freelancers and potential clients. Don’t be shy to strike up conversations – you never know where they may lead. The most unexpected encounter could spark a great new partnership or land you your next big project. And even if they don’t, expanding your network broadens your horizons and opportunities. With a little effort and perseverance, you’ll be on your way to building the strong personal and professional circles that’ll help sustain a thriving freelance career.