At the beginning of 2019, there were 62.2 million people in the U.S. who classified themselves as a freelancer. By the year 2027, this number is expected to reach 86.5 million, which means freelancers will make up 50.9 percent of the total workforce.
However, just because the majority of the workforce is soon going to be freelancers, it doesn’t mean this is an easy path. As a freelancer you have to always be “on the hunt” for your next gig – it’s a simple fact of survival.
This is true regardless of what you do, or if you are still on the hunt for a freelancing opportunity.
While there are some freelancers who have a group of repeat customers, that may not be enough to keep them busy and ensure the bills are paid.
What does this mean?
That you should always (yes always!) be networking.
However, traditional networking efforts may not work. If you want to keep finding new gigs, then you have to learn what successful networking looks like. Keep reading to learn more.
1. Make a Commitment
Before you can actually start networking, you need to get in the right mindset. You know you have to do it, so make the commitment to devote a certain amount of time, each day, to building new connections.
This can be done face-to-face, or online. Once you have created a schedule, keep track of what is working and what isn’t.
2. Meet New Connections Through Old Ones
The easiest and best way for you to meet new people is through referrals. Hang around with people you know, and who know others you want to know?
When you are introduced or join in on a conversation, you can begin to develop a relationship. If possible give the person you are meeting a token of who you are or what you have to offer – such as a business card (find unique business card ideas here).
After all, by providing this you (and what you have to offer) will remain top of mind.
You can use this same concept online. LinkedIn offers an online introduction tool. When you joint the right circle, you never know who you may be able to virtually meet.
3. Give Rather than Taking
When networking, you need to offer as much value as necessary. This is especially true when you are trying to develop a new relationship.
It’s absolutely essential that you put in time and effort to build a real relationship. The only way you can do this is by providing a substantial amount of value.
Some ideas include:
- Cold email your heroes and suggest ways they can make more sales
- Make introductions to people you know can help a potential connection
- Share what is working in your business and encourage others to copy it
The key here is to ask for nothing in return. That is how you can get people’s attention.
4. Contact Your Past Clients
If you have completed a number of jobs for a certain company or group, then they probably liked what you accomplished. Why not reach out to these people and see if they can recommend other potential clients?
You may even want to offer a finder’s fee for any help they can provide. This is a perfect example of leveraging the network you have already built.
5. Leverage Social Media
Social media is an extremely effective way for you to get to know contacts better without the pressure and stress face to face meetings create. Try to find like-minded or important contacts you want to know better.
Use your LinkedIn presence, Twitter, Facebook, and others to find potential connections. A great way to “break the ice” is by commenting on a link they have posted or responding to a comment.
Begin a conversation and then offer them some type of value. If you ever get the opportunity to meet them in person, you can reference prior communications, making the entire situation more comfortable.
6. Go to Trade Shows
There are freelancing opportunities in virtually every industry today. As a result, you have to determine your niche and then utilize the resources available.
Attending a trade show is a great way to get to know the players in that particular space, and it will allow you to connect with those who may need your services. While networking events have their place, when it comes to finding new clients, vendor events and trade shows can be invaluable.
7. Don’t Demand Too Much of Their Time
Before you even begin networking, make sure you have an agenda to keep the meeting on track. After all, time is money.
No one is going to be interested in offering you business if you take up too much of your time. If you plan what you are going to say ahead of time, you can avoid this issue.
8. Always Follow Up
It doesn’t matter if you send a few emails or use social media to approach a new contact, make sure you are timely with your follow-up. After all, other freelancers are going to be competing for the work you hope to secure.
An enthusiastic and fast follow-up can help to turn potential prospects into real paying clients. This is the end goal, after all.
Successful Networking Requires Careful Planning
If you want to ensure you only engage in successful networking activities, then make sure to implement the tips found here. Doing so can help you find more clients, regardless of what industry you are targeting.
If you found the information here informative and want more tips on how to be a successful entrepreneur, be sure to check out our blog on how to achieve a work-life balance. Our goal is to provide you with the information you need to succeed in your chosen career.