8 Tips to Gain More Freelance Clients Through Networking
Networking is one of the most important things you can do as a freelancer. You’ve probably thought about how you can have a more steady income and land more projects. Networking expands your reach and helps you with that. Here are a few tips for building your network and gaining more freelance clients.
1. Create a Career Vision Board
Creating a vision board helps you focus on your career goals. You can include short-term networking goals such as “increase my client base,” “learn how to network on LinkedIn,” or “grow client X’s following on Facebook by 50%.” Make it one of your goals to help your clients succeed, and you’ll also achieve success.
A vision board can be a physical board like a corkboard pinned with photographs, or a board you create online. One of the simplest and easiest online tools is Milanote, which lets you create a career vision board from free templates and royalty-free images. Once you log on to the site, choose your template, customize it with Milanote’s drag-and-drop features, and share or export your creation.
2. Organize Your Network
Your current network is an excellent resource for clients or job leads. You never know; the person needing your services might be in your Facebook or LinkedIn contacts!
List your contacts and organize them into a spreadsheet. Making a manual list could be a tedious process, however. The faster way is to export your email contacts to a CSV file, which you can open in Excel and organize later on. Go to your contacts list in Gmail, Yahoo Mail, or Outlook; from there, you can download them as a CSV file.
If you want to export your Facebook or LinkedIn contacts to a spreadsheet, you can read the following articles:
After creating a spreadsheet of your contacts, categorize them into groups:
- Professional organizations
- Industry leaders
- Past co-workers
Using your list, schedule time to reach out to people who could be your clients or lead you to potential clients. For example, you can set a goal to reach two contacts in one category daily.
3. Communicate Intentionally and Confidently
Exuding confidence and intentionality when meeting people will help you land leads. When you make a good impression on someone, it’s more likely that they’ll recommend your services. You don’t have to fake this; you’ll learn as you build your skills and practice networking with others.
When contacting people on LinkedIn, be specific about what you want. Avoid sending random, generic messages that make you seem like a stalker (e.g., “hello” or “I’d like to connect”). If you’re sending your portfolio, always include a proper introduction.
You can also prepare an elevator pitch for career events and unexpected networking opportunities. Harvard Business Review says, an effective elevator pitch should be catchy, personal, and authentic. It should also highlight your value proposition. For instance, a copywriter’s value proposition could be, “I write content that sells so that you can focus on other important aspects of your business.”
There are numerous platforms to help you create your pitch. You can use Coggle or Canva Whiteboard to brainstorm. These apps give you the space and tools to write and organize your thoughts better. For ideas on what to say when making an elevator pitch, go through LinkedIn Learning’s Giving Your Elevator Pitch course.
Social media helps you connect with people and maintain those connections. Use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok, depending on your target market. Since LinkedIn is currently the largest professional network, study the tips to manage your LinkedIn profile visibility.
To help clients find you easily, optimize your social media profiles. If you’re a graphic designer, you’ll want to be on Instagram and LinkedIn. Make sure your profile description is clear about the services you’re selling. You’d like to show your best work, project categories, contact details, and rates on your profile.
Increasing your interactions on social media will also help you build a following. You can follow industry leaders, related businesses, and potential clients. Respond to their posts, add value to the conversation, and show your expertise. If you need more confidence in your social media skills, learn digital marketing tricks through online courses or YouTube videos.
5. Attend Networking Events
Online and offline networking events are excellent opportunities for freelancers to meet potential clients and other freelancers who might be able to provide support or advice in the future. Many of these events run on Facebook or Zoom. They’re also usually hosted by industry leaders or professional organizations who want to promote their services and build a loyal customer base. You can learn a lot by observing and taking note of best practices.
Search Eventbrite to find the best networking events. Using the filters, set your location, category, language, and currency. Remember to turn on the search for online events if you only want to show virtual meet-ups.
6. Support Your Connections
One of the best ways to gain more clients is by offering support to your current network. If you’re a digital marketer, you can offer to walk someone through the basics of a Facebook page. Or you can support their posts and promote their business online.
Supporting others’ endeavors builds goodwill, which, in turn, builds your reputation as a trustworthy brand. Rather than trying to make a hard sell all the time, try relying on goodwill relationships. People might trust you more if they know you’re genuinely concerned about their success.
Some people don’t consider volunteering since it’s unpaid and takes time, but volunteering has helped professionals grow in their careers. Volunteering enables you to share life-changing experiences with others, strengthening your relationships and building credibility. Volunteering is also a learning experience that develops and promotes your skills.
You can choose from many volunteer opportunities. You can offer free consultations or volunteer for an organization. Toptal has a TopVolunteer site where you can apply as a freelancer and connect with nonprofits and charities.
Volunteer work builds trust and can pave the way for leads. If people are happy with your work, it can even land you an offer for a paid project. More than that, it’s also rewarding to contribute to work that makes others’ lives better.
8. Schedule Consistent Networking Activities
To be successful at networking, you need to be consistent—schedule time each week to attend networking events or meet with people. Without a schedule, networking might fall into the least of your priorities, and you might be tempted to stay in your comfort zone.
Use Google Calendar to set a time for networking. You can change the cell color on the time slot, so you can easily see how much time you devote to networking and other freelance activities. If networking has fallen by the wayside, it’s time to add it to your schedule.
To set up appointments easily, integrate your Calendar with Zoom to generate an instant meeting link. Zoom is one of the best add-ons for Google Calendar, letting you directly schedule meetings from email or your online calendar. It works best with a paid plan, since the basic plan has a 40-minute limit.
Network Better to Get More Freelance Clients
Networking is a vital part of the freelance life. A good networking strategy will connect you with your ideal clients. You may have a lot to offer, but it will be hard to land a project if people don’t know you exist.
Most networking strategies require online tools and attending virtual or in-person events. Also, some networking strategies like volunteering may take time to reward you monetarily. However, they can lead you to connect with people in your industry.
You can start with one or two tips before trying the ones you find most challenging. By slowly going out of your comfort zone, you will be able to network better to get more freelance clients.
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November 23, 2022 at 05:38AM