5-star Freelancers

6 ways to put networking on autopilot

The average freelancer will spend 50% of his time working, and the other 50 networking and trying to find new work.

Why can’t you seem to find a way to stand out?

The common answer is that you don’t have a big enough network. But it’s hard to build a network when you’re busy running your business!

You can be sitting in your home office, quietly doing 5-star work… but if nobody knows you’re doing it, it doesn’t matter!

You need to build your following and gain some publicity.

The good news is, you don’t have to do it by yourself. Here are a few ways to put other people to work for you to maximize your networking efforts.

How to put networking on autopilot

  1. Don’t underestimate the value of an informal interview
    Something I do that is against the grain is that I request interviews with potential companies and clients who aren’t hiring. If they aren’t advertising that they’re hiring, they aren’t receiving hundreds of resumes a day, and they aren’t overbooked with interviews. It can be a very informal conversation over coffee, just to make sure you’re on their radar. Keep in constant contact with them. Become their friend, and be curious about their business and what they’re working on month to month. That way, when a position does open up or a need arises… you’re the first person they think of.
  2. Leverage former client connections
    Be keenly aware of who your clients are connected with. When you leave a project or a client, don’t be shy about asking for a referral. If you do good work, they’ll almost always want to refer you. I recently landed a fantastic freelance gig that allows me to travel overseas, simply because I asked a former coworker at my last gig to put in a good word for me once with a company I admired. A few days ago I signed a 4 month contract that I couldn’t be more excited about, and I put in zero effort in promoting myself.
  3. Go to events in your area
    The number of people in your area who are looking for creative work but have no idea where to turn will stagger you. Go to meet up groups and talk to people. The people who gather at meet up groups are the people who are the most passionate about that subject matter and are incredibly eager to connect and be connected. Nurturing these relationships will open more doors than you can imagine.
  4. Use social media
    An obvious choice, but not in an obvious sense. I don’t mean start a twitter account and follow people until your index finger hurts from clicking. I mean providing valuable content. Utilize the less common portal. Become an author on LinkedIn (all you have to do is write one article). Join LinkedIn groups and become an active member of topical discussions.
  5. Master your elevator pitch
    This makes you remarkable. The easier it is for people to talk about you, the more they will feel inclined to. For example, if you’re simply calling yourself a “freealnce designer”, that is going to mean so many things to so many people. But, if you’re a “freelance web designer specializing healthcare clients”, your message will spread much quicker, and to much more specific audience. Figure out what your focus is. Then make sure you tell as many people as you can.
  6. Stay ahead of competition
    Always stay up-to-date on current trends in the industry. Connect with different fields to have people outside of the design world talking about your work. The fact that you are taking additional steps to build your business will make more people want to hire you for their next project.

About the Author

Drew Palmer is a freelance designer & entrepreneur based in Philadelphia, PA.

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