Knowing more people in your industry will always be a good thing. Since we never know where opportunities will strike, networking like a pro will be key to growing your business and getting more clients. Today we will have a look on how to find clients for your freelance business.
In the age of virtual work, taking the initiative to go out and meet new people is crucial. After all, you’ll never meet anyone when working indoors. Making new friends will also help you stay sane or learn the tricks of the trade.
Now, how can you network like a pro as a freelancer? Here are some of the tips you need to know.
1. Start small
Approaching strangers can be a daunting aspect so it’s best to start with the people that you know. Begin slowly with your friends and relatives and then when you’re a little more comfortable with the idea of networking, move on to your alumni network.
The people you already know will know other people who’ll know other people and so on. Stick around with the people you know and ask them for an introduction to the people you are looking to meet.
2. Have a strategy
Increasing your circle of contacts should be seen as a fundamental part of your job. So, don’t go around randomly distributing business cards. A solid and truly professional network can’t be built without a strategy outlined.
Answer questions like what are you looking for in your network, what impression you want to make, what are your professional interests, and what places like people you want to meet usually go.
Knowing what you are looking for is essential for acquiring good networking as well as for having a positive exchange, both professionally and personally.
3. Join Social Events
Almost any social gathering can offer opportunities to network. Parties, happy hours, sporting events, gatherings of family and friends—in other words, just about any event that brings people together in significant numbers is an opportunity for freelancers to make connections. This will also provide you with a good balance in your life since many freelancers frequently work alone.
Finding people who share your professional or even personal passions is a fantastic way to network. Becoming a volunteer in your community, or even online can be a great way to gain professional experience, especially if you’re just starting out in your career or looking to switch to a new field.
5. Follow other freelancers
A general tip that applies to both online and offline freelance networking is not to leave other freelancers out. As you’re building your network, help out fellow freelancers if you can. Sure, connections with companies and potential big clients might seem more productive and lucrative, but hanging out with the freelancer crowd can prove to be just as effective.
Think of it as having good, reliable colleagues. If the workload is too much, the project too big, or just too difficult, freelancers need others that they can count on. Make yourself be that other person. By lending a hand, you can then count on them for help later down the line.
You may also consider getting in touch with just two or three freelancers with complementary skills or ones who work in a parallel industry. The idea is that they refer clients to you, and in return, you’ll refer clients to them. You can discuss referral fees if it makes sense, but the point is that someone may need you for one part of a project, and need someone else’s skills for the rest.
6. Use the internet to your advantage
It is impossible to ignore the power that the internet has in our activities, whether personal or professional. So use this tool to improve your network. Be active on social networks, especially on LinkedIn.
There is no point in exchanging cards at events if you do not develop and deepen this initial relationship. So it may be time to gather all those business cards you’ve got from people and plan the best activation strategy for each one. Have you added them on Linkedin? This can be a good start. Show up, be active and gain visibility.
When it comes to Linkedin, if you are looking to expand and make new connections with professionals in your area, you need to have attention to the details. Make sure to update your profile with the most relevant information about your career as well as optimize your profile with keywords that can be easily found by other professionals and recruiters. Try to leave it as complete as possible, as it is unlikely that the person who entered your profile will enter again.
Finally, a more informal yet great way to find freelance work (especially part-time) are through Facebook groups. In this case, the key thing is to join the right groups, meaning, groups where your customers are or where you’ll likely find opportunities within your industry. For instance, if you’re a graphic designer, join a group of small business owners/online entrepreneurs (who may need graphic design work), as well as groups such as “Freelance Designers”.
If you’re not a Facebook – or social media – fan, let it intimidate you. Remember that the goal behind these strategies are to take the conversation out of the platform. You may start the chat through Linkedin or Facebook, but hopefully, you won’t continue it there – you’ll change it to email, phone, or video call to close the deal.
7. Local businesses
Another great place to find freelance clients is local businesses.
Make connections in your community — see what problems they’re currently facing and put together a tailored proposal on how your services can help.
You never know, your local bar might need new menus designed, or your dentist may need better SEO for their site.
You’ll face significantly lower competition (perhaps even no competition) reaching out to local businesses over talking to potential clients online.