Fortunately, there are many different options available to an ambitious entrepreneur looking to make their mark. If you’re just beginning your freelance career, here are a few different ways you can successfully network in order to grow your new business.
1. Identify Your Networking Targets
The first thing is to consider what you’re trying to accomplish. Networking is a powerful business tool, but if you dive in without a networking strategy you’re likely to waste a great deal of time. With that said, you need to begin by identifying who it is that you’re trying to reach through your networking. A few common targets include:
Begin by identifying which of these you want to accomplish (you can pick more than one). Taking the time to think this through provides a sense of focus as you set about building your professional network.
2. Identify Your Networking Setting
Along with discovering who you’re looking for, you want to figure out where you’re going to network. Here are a few common networking venues for freelancers:
3. Take Advantage of Existing Networks
While choosing your networking target and location are the two primary starting points, it’s also important to take the time to consider your existing networks. Do you have any connections in the past or present that can help you build towards your freelancing future?
This can take a little detective work, but it’s well worth the effort. For instance, if you spent the last few years since your college graduation working in retail and you’re launching into a brand new freelance writing career, you may write off many of your old college and business connections as irrelevant to your new profession.
However, past professors may be able to provide insight into your writing style. Old coworkers and bosses may be able to give you suggestions for how to market yourself. If you have a disability, you may already have an existing community that can provide mentorship opportunities such as the Disabled Businesspersons Association.
Even family and friends may have skills that are worth connecting over. For instance, a brother-in-law who is an accountant may be an ideal existing network connection that can help you sort out your finances once you begin to find work. The point is, look for the existing connections around you and then integrate them into your networking strategy.
Finding Networking Success in the Freelance World
Whatever your particular freelancing situation is, it’s always worthwhile to spend time networking. If you take the time to identify your networking needs, find the best networking channels, and make sure to tap into your existing networks whenever possible, you’ll be able to go about building your professional freelancing network with confidence and ease.
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This story was originally November 5, 2019, and has since been updated.