As a freelancer, we often ask what role does networking play for our work and what is the importance of networking for any company. Before we discuss how as a freelancer you can build your network, you need to understand what exactly is networking for a freelancer.
Networking is the act of interacting with others so as to exchange information and build professional or social contact.
Importance to Networking
Networking plays a key role for any freelancer as it helps them build a network with other contacts which in the long run gives them a huge advantage as a professional.
Here is an overview of some of the key importance of networking for any freelancer, which in turn provides value to his or her business:
1) To build a credible presence
Be it as a person who has been in business for years, or a person who is just starting out professionally, credibility goes a long way to build his/her presence in the industry and further expand it. These contacts, in turn, tell others about you and your work and further strengthen your presence in the industry.
2) To attract new clients
Networking also helps build awareness for your company or work and thus, in turn, attract new clients for our business.
It is the biggest goal for any business to find new clients or brand in order to sustain and further expand their work and in turn grow in the industry. One also understands that not all of your professional connections will need your services right away, but would require your service some day.
Thus it becomes not only to build contacts but also maintain them, so you are the first person they think of when they need the service that you offer or refer your name if someone else asks them for the same service.
3) To grow your skill set and knowledge base
While we all talk about how networking brings you more business, many fail to mention that networking also helps you build your skill set and knowledge.
With more business, you grow your talents and further develop your knowledge base.
Networking also brings more demands which help to strengthen your current skills and also practice things that you otherwise hardly use.
A well-developed professional network thus helps build a good network and keep you updated with the latest requirement.
4) Helps you stay on the ball
As I mentioned above no one can question the importance of networking as it not only helps us build our skill set but also stay on the ball as you stay up to date with current requirements and demands,
Networking, also lets you know what is demand and which skill is getting outdated, so you can update your skills accordingly while still having your bases clear.
Good networking also lets you know what’s trending and what is happening in other fields which in turn can have an impact on your services.
Developing Network as a Freelancer
Now that we know how networking impacts a freelancer, here are few pointers which would not only help you create a strong network but also helps you utilise it to your full potential.
1) Join Social Media Groups
In today’s day and age, the digital platform is the biggest way to network and build your contact. While it might be hard to meet potential clients in person, social media is the best way to keep in constant touch with them and also let them know with regards to your work.
While it initially will take some time to find the right group and make your impact, build their interest and interact with them on topics of their choice and current affairs. Make sure that you don’t just lurk in these groups you and actually interact as you are otherwise losing out on valuable networking time.
2) Get involved with creative coworking spaces like myHQ
Membership of creative coworking spaces such as myHQ helps you bridge the gap that one faces between digital and real world.
Being involved with such coworking groups also opens the doors to creative and business networking on one on one level. Just like online, while this might take some time and effort, but the relationships you build here are life long as contacts that you gain here have seen your work personally and in many cases have also helped you develop and expand your network.
myHQ organises regular networking sessions and AMAs with industry experts to help its community members network and grow, both professionally and personally.
You can also give this shot on trial bases on myHQ and see and observe first hand how coworking organisations work and also have this experience in the area near you. Book your free day trial at a myHQ spaces near you!
3) Collaborate and work quid pro quo
Please note that networking is a two-way street and when you invite someone to collaborate with you on a project they’ll want to return the favour somewhere down the road and think of you when they will want someone to collaborate with them on a project.
Further, if the teamwork between you and the said was efficient or even fun, it will lead to more collabs and you both either will either tag-team on many other projects, or even join forces and pitch for many such projects together.
It will also mean that you both will recommend each other to a client who just needs one or both services. Collaborating with one of your friends or someone from your network would open up the door to many more businesses, teamwork and even more money.
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4) Always follow up on your networking efforts
Always remember to follow up with your contacts, and take feedback.
While it is important in networking to look ahead to build more contacts, it is equally important to look at the past and follow up as well. We often forget to follow up and keep in touch with contacts that have been with us for a long time or are our family and friends.
It is adviced that you contact them after you have worked with them for feedback and even more important to contact them again from time to time and follow up.
While the first step gives you an idea about your work, contacting old contacts again makes sure that your clients know that they are not forgotten and also gives you a heads up if anything has changed since your last contact with them.
A follow-up can also bring you more work and even give you an opportunity that might not have existed before.
5) Don’t forget your family and friends
While everyone tells you to start with your family and friends, I will also suggest getting back to them even when you have built a strong network.
As a freelancer, they are the first ones to get your work and thus should not feel that they have been forgotten when you have progressed. As a freelancer, you need to remember that not everyone would need your work at the same time, thus it’s important to keep in touch with them from time to time and let them know that you are available when they need your services.
Family members and close friends would always be the first one to recommend your name and thus should not feel that they have been taken for granted.
Thus, keep these points in mind and not only understand the importance of networking, but also understand how to further build on your networking.
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