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#18 Freelance Mastery: Networking

Learn how to network as a freelance professional

Networking is critical for growing your business. Yet so many people hate it. Why? People think that networking seems sleazy or fake. But there’s an art to networking that adds value to both parties. Here’s how to engage in effective freelance networking, and how to leverage it to grow your business.

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Begin With Who You Know

The simplest way to grow your network is to leverage your existing one. You can do this by:

  • Setting up meetings with members of your existing project teams (including managers).
  • Take them for a coffee and ask them how you can help them with their work.
  • You add value to them and in exchange they may introduce you to their wider network.
  • If someone in your network does mention someone, ask permission to contact them.

Plan Events With A Strategy

You don’t have to attend every event! Sometimes less events and more planning is a good way to network. Do this by asking yourself:

  • How can you achieve results in the quickest time? And what are these results?
  • Why are you going to events: for connectors, paid clients or mentorship?
  • Tailor your approach to the event: don’t sell your business if you're looking to connect.
  • If you want to talk to a specific person: introduce and book to talk in advance.

Ask The Right Questions

Even the most introverted of people can look good with some well selected questions. Some tips for freelance networking:

  • Asking without selling: ask simple but penetrating questions to get results. 
  • ‘What does an average day look like?’ Use it to benchmark workload and commitments.
  • ‘Can you give me some advice?’ A great way to make people feel good.
  • Spend almost all of the time asking about your target person. Make them feel important.
  • Talk about yourself at the end of the meeting in a succinct and clear way.

Have A Closing Point

It’s okay to ask for something when networking. It’s just about how you frame it:

  • At the end of the meeting, let the person know you’re looking for clients or contacts.
  • You’ll be adding value to the person while potentially helping your own business.
  • The person will be more valuable to someone else because they know a guy in sector X.
  • If the closing point is to get advice (not business), be prepared with the right questions.

Pay Attention To Your Network

You need to pay attention to your existing network, and not just keep adding to it. Some simple steps are to:

  • Add information to your CRM about each contact so you have a good basis for convos.
  • Make room in your calendar for a quarterly reminder to reach out to contacts.
  • Book in time with your existing network to go out for a coffee and check in.
  • Analyze your own success with your network to improve again in future.
  • Prune the network: sometimes people will talk but not deliver. Let them contact you.

Networking Doesn’t Have To Be A Chore

When planned and scheduled, networking can become a natural part of your existing business growth. It can also be fun! Networking also allows you to socialize and develop greater knowledge of a particular sector.

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