You’ve probably heard this far too many times already, but networking is incredibly important for a freelancer’s career. Strangely enough, many schools don’t really spend much time teaching you how to network. It’s often assumed that you will just figure it out. And yes, for some, networking comes naturally. But for others, networking can be very awkward… It shouldn’t be awkward, it should be fun! So how do you make it fun? How do you take away some of that networking anxiety and how do you make a good first impression? Let us help you out. In this blog, we are giving away 5 networking tips for freelancers (who struggle with networking otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this 😉).
Why is networking important for freelancers?
Before we give away our 5 tips, let’s answer the following question first: Why is networking important for freelancers? Here at Freelancer Talk, we believe in the so-called Powers of Networking. We know, it sounds very Marvel-like but they really are powers! So what are the Powers of Networking?
The first power is ‘Work Opportunities’, a network can lead you to find more/new work. Whether that’s through word of mouth, people actively referring you, or you simply hearing of a job opening that wasn’t posted online. Actually, many freelancers find most of their projects through their networks!
The 2nd and 3rd powers are twins and we call them ‘Knowledge’ & ‘Guidance’. You are not reinventing the wheel as a freelancer. There have been many before you. That means that there is an infinite amount of knowledge available to access in your own network. You just simply have to ask. You would be surprised to find out how many people will want to help someone else out. Side note: your network should be inclusive and diverse so that you can learn from others and access even more knowledge.
The final power is ‘Community’. Networks can be solely professional, but they can also turn into your own little family of like-minded professionals. When that happens, a community is born. A community is a place where you feel safe, welcomed, and appreciated. We are all for community building and definitely encourage you to build your own!
Want to learn more about the ‘Powers of Networking’? Check out this ‘Freelancer Talk’ below from our founder Wouter Vertogen during one of our network events in Amsterdam!
5 Networking Tips for Freelancers
Now that we have understood why networking is important for freelancers. Let’s dive into our 5 networking tips for freelancers! When reading these tips, it’s important to understand that you have to make them your own. There is no one way to become a network genius. Everybody is different and you just have to find out what works for you.
1. Be You
Networking is actually another word for relationship building. And just as in any other relationship, you want to be able to be yourself. You want people to like you for who you are. So don’t go and start catfishing your new connections. Just be you. Be chill. Anybody who doesn’t connect with you for the way you are doesn’t deserve your time anyway 😉
2. Be Prepared
When you go to a networking event such as Freelancer Talk, it is wise to be a little prepared. You should always be ready to describe yourself and your freelance business in a few sentences. But don’t start going into full pitching mode. You want others to get to know you without overselling yourself. Remember, you are building a relationship and not selling products.
When you do end up having a conversation with someone you don’t know, make sure you give them space to speak. Actively listen to what they have to say. Make them feel comfortable when speaking to you by showing you are listening. A little nod or “yes” will do just fine.
4. Be Sincere
Can you tell when someone is faking it? Chances are that in most cases your answer is going to be yes. Stay true to who you are as mentioned in the first tip but also make sure that your attempt to network comes from a sincere place. If you want to work with someone, sometimes it’s better to just be direct and let them know that you admire their work. There’s no need to slimeball.
5. Don’t be so serious!
Networking is like playing a game. And games are fun! Using a fun joke to break the ice is definitely a good way to start a conversation. Don’t take every conversation too seriously. Okay, business is business but as a freelancer, you also want to be able to connect with others on a more personal basis. Side note: always read the room. Know when it’s time to have fun and when it’s time to be serious.
Alright, these were our 5 networking tips for freelancers. Undoublty, there are many more tips for networking as a freelancer. In the end, it’s also a trial and error kind of thing. Not every conversation will lead you to make a new network connection. That is totally fine though! When that happens just reset your mind and move on.
Got any networking tips? Let us know in the comments!
After reading this blog, we challenge you to get yourself out there and start expanding your freelance network. As your network grows you will see that your freelance career will do the same. Find out which tips work for you best when networking. Here at Freelancer Talk, we organize events where networking doesn’t feel like networking at all. We create fun and playful pop-up events where networking feels like any other night out. Check out our events page to find out when and where we are organizing the next Freelancer Talk.
Now let’s network your success!