One of the most common thoughts of a freelancer is to find their next gig. It’s how things work if you follow this path of going on your own and making a living by yourself.
We all know how satisfying is this life, but we also know how hard it can be when clients are hard to find. Even for freelancers that have a solid group of repeat customers, sometimes the workflow is diminished and that means we have to find a solution to this problem.
That solution is networking. Building strong connections that might lead to potential clients is a great way to diversify your reach and make sure enough orders are coming.
Networking is not an easy process for some freelancers, especially for those that chose this career path because they are not that inclined to be sociable.
If that is the case for you, or you simply want to find more clients, here are 10 ways you can increase your reach by networking.
1. Make building your network a commitment
Everything we accomplish starts with a decision, that’s why we must decide that this is something we need to do. We need to adopt the mindset of wanting to build a network.
After you made the decision, create a set of daily habits that will help you accomplish this goal. Set aside time every day to build the network online or offline and stick to it. Keep track of what works for you and what doesn’t.
2. Start with those close to you
Your friends and family are the first ones that you can reach about what you do for a living. Some people feel uncomfortable to involve close people on what they do, and I can understand the feeling.
But as long as you don’t harass them like an MLM fanatic, there’s nothing wrong with showcasing what you do to people that are close to you. You never know who knows someone that might need your services.
Just as all your friends and family would know that you are a lawyer, they should also know about your freelancing skills and what you do for a living.
You will also feel more comfortable when talking with strangers about what you do if you first “practice” on those close to you.
3. Contact past clients
If you completed several gigs for individuals or companies, they clearly liked your work. You can reach out to them and ask for recommendations for other potential clients.
You can also give them a referral bonus for any successful recommendation they bring, or a hefty discount for a future order. In this way, you leverage the network you already have.
4. Help other people
Contrary to what people think, giving is much more efficient at building a network than asking. When you take from your time and experience to help someone in need, you plant seeds that can grow in ways you can’t even imagine.
Other people can open doors for you that you couldn’t open yourself.
So don’t shy away from helping people achieve success with your expertise, even other freelancers in your field. A small gesture can mean a lot for someone else.
Not to mention that having a friendly personality helps you attract more people.
5. Join online groups
There are online groups on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn) and on forums that revolve around your niche. Join these groups and actively participate in the discussions there.
You can learn from others, give advice from your own experience and build connections with people that are interested in what you do.
It’s a simple thing to do that can help you grow a big network. Ultimately, this is the place where some of your target audience is hanging out.
6. Seek a role model
While you are active in these groups, look around for freelancers from your niche and find the one that excels at what they do. Find someone that looks like the person you aspire to become.
Then befriend them, follow them online and learn everything you can from them. This is not a direct way to build your network, but it will help you identify ways on how to expand your reach faster and easier.
And who knows, you can even find a mentor in some cases, that is willing to share their knowledge and contacts with you.
7. Attend industry events
You shouldn’t count only on your online reach to expand your network. You also have the possibility to meet people face to face via networking events and trade shows.
Fortunately, it’s not that hard to find these types of events for your niche and to attend them.
It’s a great way to meet influencers in your niche, other freelancers, new prospects and to expand your knowledge about the industry you love.
It also makes you feel more connected with people, as a freelancer’s life sometimes resembles the one of a lone wolf.
8. Partner up with another freelancer
A great idea to expand your network is to partner up with a freelancer that has complementary skills.
For example, if you are a web designer, you can collaborate with a copywriter to offer a wider range of services.
This allows everyone involved into the partnership to reach much more people than they could have reached by themselves.
9. Be well established in the online sphere
You are a business, and like any business, if you miss out on the online opportunities you are missing out on a lot of possible clients.
It amaze me how many freelancers don’t have a website and a strong social media presence yet. If people don’t know what you can do and how to find you, it will be harder to get a steady influx of orders.
People search online and on social media when they need something, especially when they want something that can be delivered online. I can’t stress enough the importance of your online presence.
Not to mention that you look like a professional when you pitch in for jobs with a cool website portfolio compared to using Google Drive links.
As a writer, I find my clients only in slow months when not enough clients find me. I got most of my orders from people that found my website or my social media profiles.
10. Hang around where your target audience is
The last piece of advice for building strong connections is to find who your target audience is and hang where they hang.
Let’s say that you are copywriter that specializes in product descriptions. In this case, your target audience is made of people who own online stores and need to improve their sales.
Therefore you need to find the places where these business owners hang out online and be there. Being more original in your approach is a great way to expand your network.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can go in these communities and spam your services.
You will have to connect, engage with them, participate in conversations, and make yourself known through being a member of that online community. It takes time but it will pay off in time.
These are my suggestions to how to connect with other people in 10 simple ways. Some methods might be more efficient than others, depending on your niche.
But as a general rule, it’s best to have as many sources of connections as possible. Networking is a marathon, not a sprint.
What do you think about these methods? How many of them do you use and what others you would add? Leave a comment below and let us know.