As a freelancer, I am constantly looking for ways to get new jobs, be introduced to new opportunities, and supercharge my work efforts. Not only to make more money, but for the purpose of security.
One of the best, and most effective ways to gain trust, build relationships, and open the doors to new opportunities is to network. On or offline, networking is one of the best ways to develop new jobs. It is amazing the effect a tweet or email will have on someone, and how it can lead to new opportunities. I can't even begin to explain how many new jobs came my way through a simple tweet, conversation on skype, or quick email I sent. Hell, if you check out my previous post to freelancers, you will notice that by a quick tweet, I was able to get this job writing for UltraLinx. Pretty crazy how powerful even a conversation limited to 140 characters can be, right?
So now you are convinced that networking is a good way to open new doors? Atleast, hopefully. Well, let's get to the tips then!
First, you have to be willing to give more than you will receive. Never expect people to hand you new jobs. It takes a little time, a little patience, and a little luck, but if handled correctly, business will come your way, or something better. When I started to network, I didn't know what to expect. I hadone goal in mind. Get my foot in the door. I had to make an impression, and not just an impression, but one that will make people wish they had hired me weeks ago. You can share content. Promote someone else's work. Converse with them on twitter. Or if you are trying to do this offline, you can go to a conference or event in your industry. Start by making an impression. Chatting with a new person, and getting your name out there. The rest will follow as those conversations and connections develop.
Making connections isn't hard. You just have to be willing to open yourself up to different fields. When I started out as a designer, I figured I would chat with only designers. I limited myself to staying on design forums or design blogs. After time, I realized that there is so much more to an effective freelance design business than a the design work itself. So I set out to develop new connections, and it led me to better and brighter opportunities.
Once I made connections, I made sure to continue the conversations with my new found friends, mentors, and fellow web entrepreneurs. Everyone's got a goal, don't be so selfish to think you are the only one who needs help.
While keeping up these conversations, I was able to offer help, promote content, or share my advice and input. This may seem like a waste of time, but it turned out to be some of the most valuable time I ever spent. Developing relationships and connections were likely to lead to bigger projects. So this was always my favorite part of networking. Granted this can be hard for a very busy person. I am not saying you have to spend every living moment helping build other people's dreams.
I am simply stating that through these conversations and experiences you are doing more than business with a person. You are creating new opportunities for yourself that could be 10x as profitable as being greedy and spending all your time working towards your own goals. Remember, also, to stay creative, you can always offer help to others in more way than one, and often times this isn't even as burdensome to yourself as you think it may be.
Finally it is time to take the next step. After developing business relationships and assisting others with their personal goals, it is time to work on yours. It is ok to ask for help or some advice. The worst that could happen is an email that never gets responded to. However; unless your friend is a very, very busy person, most people are willing to offer some brief advice or a quick minute of inspiration.
So remember, networking is a very effective way for freelancers to develop new opportunities and business projects for themselves. You have the power to change your position, so go out and do it. You will be surprised what networking can do for you if you just give it a chance.
Also check out more of our Freelancing Articles for tips, tricks, and guides on how to improve your career as a freelancer.