Effective networking is an excellent way to improve the quality and quantity of your freelance projects, but it can also be a great way to meet other freelancers and build a support network to ensure your freelance career continues to be a success.
The Secret to Successful Networking
The secret to effective networking is to listen.
Networking is your opportunity to learn more about the people in your sphere, either online or offline. Pay attention to what the person you’re talking to is saying and then offer suggestions — if you have something worth saying. The most successful networkers rarely talk about themselves. Instead of self-promoting, they act as facilitators, making connections between other business people, and this helps them be seen as the expert, in turn earning them more business and better projects. If you help your network be successful, you will be successful too.
Online or offline, if you’re the type of person telling everyone how great you are, chances are you’re going to be alone pretty soon. Talk less, listen more.
Use social networks to find like-minded freelancers to discuss projects, learn about relevant changes in technology, or discover effective ways to overcome challenges you might be facing.
Look for forums or groups in spaces like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, where you can find professionals with a large variety of skills and experience in your niche. Check these spaces out to see what questions are being asked, and more importantly – what answers are being shared.
Some additional online spaces include:
Once you are hooked, you will probably start answering questions for the newer members, demonstrating your expertise and providing you with the confidence that comes from knowing your craft well. And this is a great time to slip in a casual reference about your DoNanza Branded Freelancer page, so people will know where to find you – and more importantly – hire you.
Don’t limit yourself to what you can do when you’re at your keyboard. Take a look at some of the opportunities in your offline community. Try networking in traditional spaces, like your local Chamber of Commerce or BNI group, or you can look at spaces that might be less business-focused but more aligned with your beliefs. Volunteering at your local food bank, seniors centre, SPCA, or humanitarian group is going to put you in contact with people like yourself, and chances are, they’re going to want to know more about you and what you do. An added benefit is that since they’re already interested in helping others, there’s a good chance that they are going to try and find a way to recommend your services to their friends, families, and business connections.
There are even online/offline events, like meetups and tweetups, where you can get together with your online connections in an offline space. If you’re active on Twitter, check to see when the next tweetup is and plan on attending. If there’s nothing scheduled, set one up. All you need is a space (such as a coffee shop) and people – the conversation will happen if you can bring the two together.
Plan your next networking session
For your next networking event, set yourself a goal to accomplish during the meeting. Here are a few tricks you can use to get more out of networking:
- Collect 15 business cards. After the event, send each person that gave you a card a note (personal is best, but email will do). Make sure to include something specific you remember about them – a shared laugh, a common client, or something unique from your conversation. This is notthe time to pitch your services. If they’re interested, they will ask.
- Memorize 10 names. Remembering a person’s name is a very useful talent. Everyone wants to feel important, and you can demonstrate your respect by training yourself to remember their name. This works especially well when you are introducing them to your connections.
- Make 3 introductions. When you meet someone new, try and find an appropriate connection for them. For example, if they need a graphic designer, accountant, or financial planner, try and find someone at the same function that can offer those skills, and then bring the two people together.
Using these simple tricks can be a great way for you to establish valuable contacts to use to build your business and find your own success.
What are some of the techniques you use to network? Care to share some of your success stories?