One of the greatest challenges that freelancers face while doing business is feeling a sense of belonging to a community and getting a constant supply of fulfilling work. The uncertainty of working on a project basis can be stressful as freelancers don’t exactly know where their next job will come from. The problem is that when you’re working on your own, it can be hard to figure out where to start. A large part of the business depends on clients, which is why all the freelancers put so much effort into growing professionally, promoting themselves, and searching for clients.
Freelancing is impossible without networking efficiently. A freelancer with a strong network will find it much easier to enter the industry and get new projects. The modern world of freelancing is digitally interconnected and there are many networking opportunities available to anyone. A strong freelancer network base can consist of potential clients, as well as other freelancers with whom they can share expertise and past experiences.
No matter your strategy, goals, and personal inclinations, networking can provide a massive boost to your freelancing career and it needs to be prioritised. Here are a few primary methods that today’s freelancers can utilise to network with the right connections and grow exponentially:
1. Referrals — For freelancers who are trying to get their business off the ground in the initial growth stages, referrals can work wonders. Referrals essentially means getting your word out through the clients you have already worked with. If the client is pleased with your output, he will pass on a positive referral to another fellow client in need of a freelancer. Positive referrals help a freelancer build a rapport with the existing clientele and foster new strategic partnerships and relationships as well.
2. Connecting with HR reps — This might come across as somewhat of an unorthodox suggestion, but extremely effective if implemented correctly. When trying to build momentum once the framework has been set, freelancers can look at growing their professional network by connecting with business leaders, head-hunters, and most importantly HR representatives at companies that are interested in hiring freelancers for projects. This can work extremely well for tech based jobs like data website developers, coders and data analysts, as companies don’t just give these projects to anyone.
3. Networking with industry leaders — When a freelancer is feeling in over his head, networking with industry leaders, in this case mentors and professional freelancers, can help him come up with creative solutions. The knowledge and experience imparted by these professionals can help freelancers overcome these struggles. This can be particularly effective for jobs like website designers, copywriters, graphic designers, etc. which require a lot of raw creativity.
4. Collaborations/Freelancing agencies — Probably the easiest technique to get in touch with a wide array of prospective clients and fellow freelancers is through various freelance agencies. These agencies are essentially informal or formal groups of freelancers that have complementary skillsets and can accept large projects as a result.
After identifying the perfect method to network, a freelancer can next look at where he is going to network. Networking can be done online on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Reddit. Websites like Freelancer, Fiverr and Upwork are online freelance agencies where freelancers can put up their freelancing profile and approach clients on various job listings. With the ongoing pandemic, online is the way to go!
Networking offline, albeit hindered by the onset of the pandemic, can be much more effective in fostering and building long lasting relationships through a personal touch. A few offline events organised for, and by freelancers are freelance networking mixers, discussion panels, agency retreats, etc.
Few things to keep in mind before networking either online or offline are — identify what makes you unique (USP), asking questions and getting advice, focus on communicating not selling, build your credibility, and don’t be intimidated. Networking is more than just landing a client, but it will most certainly accelerate your career.
We at Friz, want to see freelancers successfully grow their network and become a part of something much bigger.
If you are a freelancer who has a story to tell about your networking experiences and share a few suggestions, drop us an email on email@example.com.