We have given you a glimpse about networking for the first part of the Ultimate Networking Guide for Freelancers series where it discussed to you the basics and importance of networking to your freelance career. We have shared to you the importance of networking and how to establish an effective network. Since there are two types of networking, online and offline networking, we will give you more in depth look at both types. For today, let us look into online networking and how to establish an online network that will work for you as a freelancer.
These days, online networking is the trend by using social networking sites and other online medium like portfolios, blogs and even websites. There are indeed so many ways one can choose from when you decide to do online networking. The results of your networking depend on what you choose to do and how you do it. Not everyone who has Facebook accounts is able to create strong networks because not everyone knows how to do it and not everyone chooses to use it for business purposes. Nevertheless, there are still people who really use social networks to its maximum usage by making it part of marketing, promotion and networking. Having accounts on various online websites could be of greater value if you use it in a more productive way. Online social networking is also one way of promoting your brand as a freelancer. You can reach people by talking and sharing about you and your business in so many different ways possible. Don’t just stop by sharing links from your website or from posts you have written. You can even share your current works, videos and other interesting things.
As we look into the expansion of your online network, we will not just give you tips on how to do that. We will also give you social networking sites that you could use and also some other valuable references about online networking. But before all that, let is check on the advantages that you can get from online networking.
Online Networking is a Plus
Most people are spending time online especially for those whose jobs are online like freelancers, website owners and even bloggers. These people who have online jobs have also availed of the advantages online networking can give them. Summarized into two, here they are:
1. Less physical effort. Unlike offline networking, you will just stay in one place. All you need is a computer, a laptop, a tablet or even your cellphone and your way to go. You just sit or even lie down while trying to establish your network. You can even do networking even when you are in vacation. You also do not need to spend a lot of time in doing it. And the good thing is, you still reach many people even if you just stay on one place.
2. Limitless reach. Since you are using the internet, you have the chance of reaching so many people around the globe. Just be visible online and for sure, you will be able to get the “figures” you want for your network. This is good especially when you are looking for clients online and when you need audiences for your website.
It is indeed true that you could reach many people wherever they are in the world when you do online networking. Because of that, you have to be careful. Create a good online reputation by choosing social networking sites to use and by sharing only things that are worth sharing. We will be giving you tips on how you can make the most of your time online when creating a network.
Establish an Effective Online Network
Creating an online network is not merely about going online every day or whenever you want to. It is more about using online sites and networks responsibly. In whatever you post online, make sure that you will think before you share it the world because everything you show is a reflection of your character and would greatly affect your online career. So, we have here some tips on how you can effectively establish an online network.
1. Use social media effectively.
Social networks are a good way to extend your network if you are able to use it well. So, when you are using Facebook or Twitter or other networking sites, make sure that you are not just wasting time. Aside from keeping in touch with friends, you can share posts from your website or blog that would arise interest from other people. Usually, if they find your post interesting, they would be driven to check on you and your page.
2. Have a portfolio.
A portfolio is not merely to showcase your skills. It can also help you to acquire clients and thus expand your network. Your online portfolio can do a lot of wonders for you especially that it can reach people no matter where they are in the world. Amazingly, this can even give you clients from overseas. You can read on 12 Tips for Creating Online Portfolio for Graphic Designers and Stale Portfolio? Keep it Fresh Now!
3. Create a website.
Aside from your online portfolio, your website can also be a good way to establish an online network. If you have inspiring posts and articles that give valuable information, people will opt to join your network. They will also be following your next posts. This is advantageous for your online career and also for your website’s traffic and earnings.
4. Establish a good online presence.
It doesn’t mean that just because people won’t see you that you can just do anything you want online. What you do online actually tells other what kind of person you are. They will be able to see you personality through it. So, it is important that you build a good name to maintain good online presence. You can do this by making sure that you post and share things that are beneficial and have some “sense”. Be a professional even in Facebook because if you are, then people will look at you as a professional.
5. Start with your friends.
You can start your online network with friends. You can request them to like your Facebook page or maybe share some of your links that points to your website. Doing so will also inform the friends of your friends that something interesting is cooking online. They will also drive people from their own network which is a great contribution to your site.
6. Provide mutual benefit.
We have mentioned in the first part about creating win-win situations. Even online relationship needs to give mutual benefit. Like if you want to earn more “likes” in Facebook to gain more followers and to introduce your website or blog, you can have a giveaway. Doing this gives them benefits for being given the chance to join your giveaway. They’ll even be glad to share it to others. Join forums and check on blogs where you can also join conversations, answer questions and share some ideas.
7. Create good first impressions.
First impressions last. See to it that by the time the audience gets to your site, they will like it and even bookmark it. That is why a good layout is advisable. Also, like what we have mentioned above, share only valuable information for this will build up your online reputation and first impression for those who are just new in the website.
8. Respect differences.
Communicating and interacting with people online means that you have to learn how to respect their ideas and opinions. Make sure that you know how to respond whenever someone has a different idea from yours or might say something that you dislike. Instead of getting mad, reply nicely or if you think you cannot leave a good comment, then just let time past first before you finally reply so that you will calm down and come up with a more professional response. Bear in mind that what you say online can be seen by many people and could affect your online reputation.
9. Focus and then expand.
Set your mind to expand your network. Focus in doing it. Do not be distracted with all the other things happening online. Know what you need to do online and what you are looking for. If you focus in networking, you will be able to get to your goal. Monitor the time you are spending online so that you won’t get hooked to it.
10. Have a schedule for networking.
You know that you cannot spend all your time just for networking. That is why, it is advisable to have a schedule to do it. Like you just allocate around 30 minutes to 1 hour a day to share stuff online and promote your website. You might also like to look for people whom you might be interested to be part of your network. You can also look for forums that are right for your niche and leave some helpful comments.
Where to Network Online
You have to be careful in choosing websites where you can create a network because some of them might not give you a good name. If you intend to do business, then use only sites that look professional and are made to create professional networks. There are also social network sites that are for dating or for other personal interests. So, we have here some sites which can help you extend your network.
1. Facebook. Everyone seems to have Facebook account but make sure to use it wisely. See to it also that your public profile looks good and professional.
2. Twitter. Like Facebook, Twitter is also famous. You can share whatever you want to share here. You will also get followers and you can follow people whom you think can give you interesting information through the stuff they share. Read on the Effective Use of Twitter for Designers.
3. Google+. Google+ is another good way to establish an online network. You can even create groups or circles in it where you can place your contacts. It will be much easier to connect with people using circles. You can check on other great benefits of using Google+ in Reasons Why Designers Should Try Google+
4. Deviant Art. For artists, designers and photographers, this is a good way to connect with those who share the same interest with you. You can also showcase your works for this website lets you make your own portfolio. There are also groups where you can be featured if your work is exceptional. You can also join design contests that they have from time to time.
5. LinkedIn. LinkedIn is made for professional contacts. You can create one and be able to exchange ideas, information and opportunities with other professionals.
6. Flickr. In Flickr, you can share pictures that you want. You can also join groups where you can exchange opinions and where you can also get feedbacks regarding your photos.
7. Pinterest. With Pinterest, you can pin pictures on your page with a link to your website. You can also get followers from it.
8. Stumble Upon. A website where you can share interesting things that you “stumble upon”. As what the site says, it lets you explore new and interesting things all around the web from websites, stories, pictures, videos and whatever you can think of.
9. Dribbble. A website perfect for designers - not merely for show and tell but also to interact with both amateur and professional creatives.
10. Tumblr. Tumblr uses a blogging platform where you can share text, vidoes, links, images and a lot more.
How to Check your Online Network Status
For sure, you would like to know how you are doing if we speak of your online network. So, we have here 5 things for you to do in order to determine your online network status. From here, you will know on which points you need to improve.
1. Search about yourself.
It won’t hurt if you try to Google yourself and your own website. Doing this will let you know how you look in public. You can then improve your profile when needed and you can also see on certain points that you need to work on. Search for your website and blog, too. You will be able to see your rank in Google and how well you are doing when we speak of online popularity. This is important in networking because the more popular you are and the better profile you have, the more people will be willing to become part of your network.
2. Check your statistics.
Numbers can tell you how big your network is. Check on how many people “liked” your page in Facebook, how many friends you have, how many followers you have in Twitter or Pinterest, how many readers come to your site and others. Monitor these statistics for this can help you to improve. Check on what points and posts received the highest additional people in the network and how you were able to get them so you can be guided on what to do next.
3. Assess your contact list.
Look at your online contacts. Are the people in your contacts the right people for your network? If not, then look for more people who fit in. Check on what type of people you still need and look for them. In time, you will be able to complete it but still, you need to continue networking.
4. Review your online posts.
Check on your online posts. This includes what you share in social networking sites and what you post in your blog or website. Are they helpful to attract people? Or they are just there but do not drive audience? What were the posts that had the most number of viewers? Once you found out, you can write and share more about that.
5. Check on feedbacks.
Feedbacks and comments on blog can also tell you if your network is good or not. Look on the number of people who leave comments. Are they the same people? Or you get new audience each time you have new posts? If so, that is a good thing.
More Tips on Online Networking
1. Tips to Help Designers Improve Their Social Network Standing. If you already have on online network, this article will help you to improve it. Get tips on how you can bring your online network to greater heights in order to get a better social network standing.
2. Reasons Why Graphic Designers Have to Use Social Networking Sites. Check on the benefits graphic designers can get from using social network sites. So, if you think it is a waste of time, think again! Read this article and know why you should start using social networking sites now.
3. How Freelancers Can Make a Good First Impression Online. First impressions are important even online. Clients who look into your portfolio or to your profile will immediately be driven to contact you if your online personality is a big bang. Look into how you can hook clients by having a good first impression.
4. How to Guard your Online Reputation. Make sure that you have a good online reputation for this will help you to gain the trust of your audience which includes fellow designers, followers and clients. Having a good online reputation will give you credibility when it comes to your field.
Something to Look Forward To
Establishing your online reputation takes time. You have to work hard for it and you have to be patient before you finally reap all the fruits of it. It is different with networking offline that you could actually see how people react and how people will respond towards you and your company. Online networking looks easy but you also need to exert effort in order to achieve the kind of network you want. So, for the Part 3 of this series, check on what we will share to you about offline networking. This deals on personal approaches when we speak of networking.