What really is networking? Is it merely about adding so many friends on Facebook or having lots of followers in Twitter? Networking is not just about how many contacts you have online. It is about building relationships with those who can possibly be part of your career or who can help boost your business. That includes people you meet offline who can even be of more help to you. Networking doesn’t happen overnight. One needs to work hard in order to establish a network.
Some freelancers think that creating a network is simple but it really takes time and effort in order to have a network that can be helpful for you. You might think that your existing network is already okay but you can actually do more if you network more. How can you do that? What other things can you do in order to attain better networking for your freelance job as a designer? Here is a list below:
1. Know yourself.
Before you start networking, assess yourself first. Know what you can do and where you are good at. Check if you can start conversations with people and if you can communicate well both online and offline. Try to know what improvements you need to do so that you can work on it. Knowing yourself first can make it easier for you to reach out to others.
2. Have a networking contact list.
It would be helpful if you create a list of all your contacts. Categorize your list so that you will not find it hard to look for your contacts like have a separate list for clients you have worked with and a different list for fellow designers. This can help you find people at once whenever you need them.
3. Have a professional social media account.
These days, one’s social media account shows what kind of person he or she is. That is why you need to create a professional media account. This means that you should look into what you post and what you share. You should also see to it that you only post those that look decent to be seen by the public. Our Tips to Help Designers Improve Their Social Network Standing can help you with this aspect.
4. Give presentations.
When given the chance to speak in public, do that. This can give you more chances of extending your network. People who are impressed on the way you talk and do a presentation will surely come to you. Some might even invite you to do the same for a different audience. With that, you will be able to know more people which can be helpful for your freelance business.
5. Know what to say and learn to listen.
Being friendly is a good thing in order to have better networking. Part of that is to make sure that you listen well to what others will say. No one would like to talk to you if you do not know how to listen. Also, see to it that what comes out of your mouth makes sense. Do not be uttering things that could ruin your own reputation. It is said that how you talk depends on whom you are speaking with. So, when you face people that belong to your career side, make sure that you will sound professional enough.
6. Link online and offline friends.
With the internet, we can make friends and connect with people from around the globe. This allows us to have online friends or people we know only through the internet. But there are also people that we meet offline. This includes clients, designers, friends and others. After a talk with a client or a fellow designer, you might not be able to meet again for some time. But it is important that you remain a connection. You can do this by also having an online connection to people you have meet.
7. Be proactive.
This means that you should not be shy. If you will just curl in a corner, you will not be able to improve your network. Reach out to people and communicate with them. Introduce yourself and start a conversation. You can prepare for moments like this by knowing what to say and what to do in different situations. You can also prepare a script especially if you are in a business setting. Do not be ashamed to begin a conversation and approach people. For online transactions, do not hesitate to contact people through emails. Just be sure that you have a good approach with your email.
8. Be online regularly.
Since you are doing freelance work, make sure that you will be online regularly. People will contact you through your email or your social network account. These people will expect you to reply to their inquiries. So, make sure that you will be consistent with your online presence and that you respond to emails and messages. If you disregard emails, they will feel that you are not accommodating and that you do not give value to those who contact you.
9. Attend gatherings.
There would be plenty of local gatherings in your area. It can be seminars, trainings, exhibits, parties and others. Be aware of gatherings that are intended for artists and designers. You will be able to meet new people who can help you. You’ll never know, you might be able to meet someone who can help you bring your freelance career to success. Or you can also meet people who can give you more inspiration.
10. Create win-win situations.
Networking is about giving mutual benefits to both parties. Networking relationships usually become successful when both parties gain something from the other. You can try offering help to other people. If you won’t gain something at once, you will still be able to ask help from them when you need it. You can assess a person on what he needs and offer help. This can establish good lasting relationships with people in your industry.
It's Your Turn Now
Being able to create and network is a big help to your freelance job. You might not be able to realize its value today but when you are already working, you will realize how much it can help you. Every business and career would need a network in order to succeed. You can also check Effective Freelance Business Planning Tips for Designers to help you boost your freelance career. Have you established yours? Can you share to us what you have done to create a strong network?