Networking is a freelancer’s life blood. It can sometimes make the difference in new work versus no work. Did you know that power networking has the potential to increase your workload, create new friendships, and grow your business at the same time?
Opportunities to network slip by you everyday. Recognizing and capitalizing on them is the first step to power networking. Taking what you do every day and focusing it a bit. All receive quality leads, contacts, clients, and friends. Here are my 7 tips to help you start power networking.
1. Exchange business cards with everyone.
One of the oldest forms of networking is the business card. Get in the habit of exchanging your cards with everyone. Be generous with handing them out. Everyone in your network is valuable. Don’t just wait for the ‘perfect’ potential client. Business cards are an inexpensive way to advertise and network. Use them!
2. Get your family on board.
This should go without saying, but make sure everyone in your family knows what you do. Your family knows you and they can be powerful referrers. So you’ll want to make sure they are on board with you and willing to share your information anytime they feel it’s appropriate.
3. Tell all of your friends.
Many of us are reluctant to share with our friends that we are a freelancer. I am not sure if it is because we think it’ll scare them away or turn us into a sort of red-headed step child. As with family, tell every friend you have what you are doing. Trust me, they will remember when it counts!
4. Strike up conversations everywhere.
Opportunities arise every day to speak about your company. Get in the habit of talking about your business. In the grocery line, at the bus stop, in the restaurant, or anywhere you see others. Learn techniques for guiding daily conversations to your industry. That will give you an appropriate time to plug your business and exchange your business card.
5. Form friendships with your competition.
I know this tip sounds counter productive, however by forging new relationships with your competition it puts you on their level. Since there are enough clients to go to every one in your industry, why not get on friendly terms with your competition. After all, the chances of you competing head to head for any specific client are minimal.
6. Volunteer when appropriate.
Volunteering creates image so when you can I suggest doing it. I am not talking about serving soup at a local shelter (although you could help there too). Volunteer or donate your services to a non-profit, friend, or someone in need. Its lasting value can’t easily be seen, but trust me when done right – it’ll help.
7. Contact past clients.
Continue to foster the relationship you’ve formed with your past clients. I am convinced that over 90% of your work will come from referrals. Remember each of your past clients can network with your name and services, so keep it fresh in their minds.