Tips for Networking as a Freelancer

Tips for Networking as a Freelancer

If you’ve been freelancing for any length of time, you’ve probably heard a lot of talk about networking.

These days networking seems to be a buzzword in any industry, conjuring up images of playing golf at the country club or grabbing drinks after work.

However, truly successful freelancers understand that networking involves more than just getting your foot in the door of the good-ol’-boys-club.

Understanding how to network effectively is essential for creating the fulfilling freelance career you’ve been wanting.

This week, I’ll explain three key benefits of networking as a freelancer and also give you three tips for how to network effectively.

If you understand the important role networking plays in the life of a freelancer and if you apply these networking tips, you’ll soon see your freelance career and yourself growing and gaining all of the benefits that freelancing can offer.

Why Is Networking Important?

Why is networking so essential to creating the fulfilling freelance career you envision?

Some people will try to tell you that networking is only about making new contacts and gaining new clients in order to secure new job opportunities.

While that is certainly part of the benefit, networking is also important for other reasons.

Here are the top three:

Connecting for mental health

As more and more people shift away from typical, office-centric, 9 to 5 jobs, they find themselves spending hours away from other people.

Sure, you may spend an hour on the phone with a client, or you may engage in virtual “office meetings,” but these types of interactions are poor surrogates for face-to-face engagement with other humans.

Those of us who are naturally introverted may at first relish the peace and quiet, the ordered inner sanctum, and the space to process and work on our own, but even the most stoic of us eventually find ourselves wandering to the nearest coffee shop to escape our self-imposed isolation.

Those of us who are naturally extroverted have an even harder time adjusting from our office life, with daily gossip around the water cooler and lunches with colleagues, to a rather lonely home office existence.

No man or woman is an island.

The truth of the matter is that all of us need human interaction for our own mental health. And putting your health first is an important habit to practice that will help you be successful as a freelancer.

Networking gives us the opportunity to plan for healthy interactions in ways that stimulate and sustain our mental health even though our environment has changed.

Connecting for personal growth

Beyond our mental health, we all need to experience personal growth in ways that keep us from becoming stagnant in our intellect, skills, and experience.

Although freelancing, by its nature, can offer a lot of variety in both types of jobs and clients, it is sometimes easy to get yourself in a rut, taking on the same types of jobs for the same types of clients.

Networking allows you to see what’s possible. What are other freelancers doing? What experiences or educational opportunities are available that may expand your vision and skills?

Do you really want to be doing the same things ten years from now? Do you really want to be the same person five years from now?

Networking will show you how you can grow as a person, not just as a freelancer.

Networking improves your self-confidence as you meet others in the same field, engage in meaningful conversations, and begin to understand where you fit in the world of freelancing.

It also provides motivation as you learn about new opportunities, allow yourself to expand your environment, and see how you can make valuable contributions to the freelancing scene.

By connecting with others in your field, you can learn about upcoming trends and advances in your industry. This will help you to stay ahead of the competition and give you the edge you need to stay competitive.

Learning how to effectively network in the freelancing world will enable you to grow personally and professionally.

Connecting for career goals

Of course, networking should also lead to new contacts, new clients, and new jobs.

By attending events, joining professional organizations, and connecting with others online, you can broaden your network and build strong connections with others in your field.

As you take advantage of key networking strategies (I’ll talk about those in a minute), you should reap the benefits of expanding your freelancing career.

Networking will bring you into contact with experts in the world of freelancing who can teach you about new strategies and opportunities.

Networking can also give you access to a broader audience of potential clients and help you generate leads and referrals

As you get better at networking, you’ll develop a reputation as an expert in your field. This will help you to stand out when job hunting, giving you a unique edge.

But, keep in mind that the end goal of networking is not just about you. Effective networking should build trust between people and bring value to both parties.

How Can You Network Effectively?

From professional networking events and online groups to face-to-face meetings and calls, there are numerous ways for freelancers to network and make the most of their connections.

Utilizing a few key strategies effectively will enable you to build a more successful career.

To ensure you’re making the most of your networking opportunities as a freelancer, here are three tips to help you get started.

Tip #1: Be Prepared

Networking as a freelancer can be an incredibly daunting and intimidating experience, especially for those just starting out.

But, if you are well-prepared, you will have a thorough understanding of what to expect when networking. This can ensure that you make the most of your interactions with potential contacts.

First and foremost, set goals for networking.

Why is networking important for you? Maybe it’s one of the reasons we’ve just talked about, like improving your mental health or growing personally.

What do you hope to gain from networking? What do you hope to contribute?

I’d encourage you to actually write down your goals and keep them front and center as you begin exploring this idea of networking.

With so many opportunities and avenues for networking, having clear goals will help you determine which opportunities are most likely to help you achieve success.

Then, do your research. You need to know what to expect when networking.

Familiarize yourself with the etiquette of attending an event or meeting. Every event will have its own unique culture, so it’s important to find out what the atmosphere is like beforehand. For example, dress code, conversation topics, and conversation structure can vary quite a bit.

You should be prepared to share your personal brand. Branding for freelancers is a key part of networking.

You should be able to answer three key questions when introducing yourself to a new contact:

  • Who am I?
  • What do I do?
  • What makes me unique?

If possible, talk with others in the industry who have some experience. Read some freelancing blogs (like this one) that can help you think about how you need to be prepared.

Connecting with people doesn’t just mean attending networking events. You should actively seek out potential contacts, such as colleagues, mentors, and clients.

Ask current clients if they know of others who could use your services and skills. Find out who may be attending a convention you’re planning to attend. Join a local civic organization or online freelancing group so that your name gets out to potential contacts.

The more you reach out, the more potential you’ll have networking with possible clients. Also, keeping an updated list of contacts is key to keeping track of who you’ve met and making sure no opportunity slips through the cracks.

Preparation and research can go a long way in networking. Making the most of the available opportunities is essential. Building up a strong network of contacts can help to leverage your freelancing success and lead to long-term relationships with clients.

Tip #2: Be Proactive

Networking doesn’t just happen. You make it happen. That means you have to be proactive.

One easy step you can take immediately is to put social media to work for you.

Social media is a great way to build and maintain relationships with individuals in your network. Utilize platforms like LinkedIn to connect with potential employers and showcase your skills, or Twitter to stay current in your niche and find relevant conversations.

To use social media effectively, here are a few important things to consider.

  • First, find the platform you want to use and do it well. Learn how that particular platform works, how to maximize your exposure, and how to make sure you get the most mileage out of it. Using a bunch of different platforms, hoping that sporadic posting will magically generate valuable contacts, won’t work effectively and will lead to frustration.
  • Second, be consistent. You’ve got to work those algorithms. Post regularly and often. Long periods of inactivity don’t help.
  • Third, make it valuable content. Seriously, simply putting out another post to check something off your list isn’t enough. If you want a post to gain traction, make it valuable and worth someone’s time.

Another way to be proactive is to always offer value when you reach out to someone.

Whether it’s a helpful article you’ve read or a job referral, it’s important to remember that networking is about more than just you.

In networking, your first thought should never be, “What can I get from this person?” Instead, you should be asking, “How can I help this person and invest in them?”

People remember a helpful person, and they’ll often return the favor.

Networking helps you when you are more concerned about helping others.

Along with this idea of offering value is fostering relationships. This takes more time and intention on your part.

One of the biggest issues with networking is that it often turns into a transaction-oriented exchange. We are networking with people because we hope to get something out of them and vice versa. This rarely works long-term.

Effective networking requires you not just to meet new people, but to foster a genuine connection with them that grows into a beneficial relationship. Over time, this relationship can lead to success for both of you.

So, find ways to invest in others. For example, you can connect people with other valuable people, or you can provide targeted feedback and help within your area of expertise.

The more you invest in someone else’s success, the more they are inclined to reciprocate. This won’t always pan out in exactly the way you hope, but you’ll soon gain a reputation as someone others want to connect with.

If networking is exclusively about gaining access to new potential clients (and not about building relationships), it will be shallow and ineffective.

Tip #3: Be Professional

Networking opportunities are a chance for you to leave a lasting impression on industry professionals. So, you need to make a good impression right from the start.

Once you’re at a networking event, it’s important to be prepared to present yourself in the best light. Ensure you look the part and practice your elevator pitch so that you’ll be prepared to share the relevant aspects of your skills, experience, and goals.

But, making an impression is about more than just dressing nicely and not having food in your teeth when you talk. We’ve all encountered that bigshot who only wants to talk about himself and leaves a bad impression.

If you want to make a good impression, think about other people. Practice simple courtesies like maintaining eye contact, actually listening, and giving someone your full attention.

When talking about yourself, make sure to be concise and let your interest in the other person and their experience come through. Ask insightful questions, offer genuine help, and treat them like they matter. Asking the right questions will help you learn more and make better connections.

Additionally, try to come up with personalized solutions to any questions or problems they might mention. Showing that you are resourceful and helpful can go a long way in establishing trust and building a strong relationship.

Following up with people is key to building strong professional relationships.

When you meet someone for the first time, have a system in place for keeping track of their name and other important information, especially if remembering names is not your strong suit.

Maybe that means adding them as a contact in your phone or taking a snapshot of their business card. This will help you to follow-up with them in a more personal way at a later time.

Make sure to thank them for their time, and don’t be afraid to reach out and check in periodically. Send personalized emails or make a call to people you connected with and let them know you enjoyed speaking to them. This will help you stay connected and on their radar.

If you’ve asked them insightful questions (as I mentioned earlier), you should have specific ideas or issues that you can follow up with them on.

This will communicate that you aren’t just out to get things from them but that you’re really trying to invest in building a mutually-successful, professional relationship with them.

Remember, you are building relationships. The key to doing that is to keep the bigger picture in mind.

Taking the long view of things, instead of only focusing on immediate gain, is part of embracing the journey as a freelancer.

Business contacts aren’t just a list of people to leverage when you want a new job or a new freelancing opportunity. They are real people. And, you know what real people want, connection.

Seriously, if you can offer someone real connection, making them feel good and valued, they’ll remember. And, if you stay in connection with them, they’ll help you out.

Building a positive reputation is key, and taking the time to foster relationships through follow-ups after events can ensure you remain in the minds of those you come into contact with.


When it comes to freelancing, networking is a vital tool for success.

It is essential for any freelancer looking to break into a new industry, grow their client base, and make the most of their freelancing experience. It helps you make connections with people in the same field and provides opportunities to collaborate and gain advice from experienced professionals. It also allows you to get your name out and have your work seen.

But keep in mind, networking is really about building relationships and making connections with real people. People who can invest in you as you invest in them.

To network effectively, you’ll need to be prepared, be proactive, and be professional. As you invest your time and effort into networking effectively, you’ll experience a range of benefits beyond simply building your client base.

You’ll see the connections you are making are good for your mental health, your personal growth, and your career goals. You’ll reap the benefits of creating the fulfilling freelance career you’ve always wanted.

Thanks for reading!

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