When you decide to freelance in fields such as writing, bookkeeping, or accounting, online freelance job boards and content mills might seem like a convenient alternative to networking. These companies do the marketing for you and offer you the opportunity to bid on jobs or assign you tasks based on your resume or a demonstrated skill. The downside, however, is these companies also limit your income by taking a percentage of the money you could be earning if you worked independently with your own clients. You might have to compete with hundreds or even thousands of freelancers also signed up with the company, and you probably won’t have the opportunity to use the full extent of your expertise to stand out as a worker. Networking, on the other hand, allows you to grow your business through one-on-one relationships with your own clients and increase your earnings. Here are some strategies you can use to network your way into the best freelance jobs.
Tap Your Personal Network
The idea of networking can feel daunting when you think you don’t know enough people. Chances are, however, your personal network is more extensive than you think and can lead you to freelance job opportunities. Social media sites can help you put together a list of people that you already know in your field based on your former schools, places you’ve worked, and even within your own community. Network daily by letting people know about your expertise in a casual, nonpushy way and offer assistance when the opportunity arises. For example, if a friend in your network talks about upcoming crunch season at work, ask whether someone with your skill set can help reduce the workload. When you complete a job successfully, don’t be hesitant to ask if the friend can refer you to other people with the same business needs.
Network With Other Freelancers
Although you might think of other freelancers as your competition, getting to know freelancers in your niche could actually be a beneficial move. If you have common interests with freelancers in your field, you may be able to build friendships with experienced freelancers who are willing to share insider tips and other valuable information. Good standing in a freelancer group can also help you get referrals to choice opportunities that you would not find through an online mill. You can generally find other freelancers in your niche in social media groups. But don’t overlook the opportunity to network with other freelancers in person whenever you can by attending meetups or by meeting individuals to talk shop at your favorite cafe.
Speak at Events
One of the best ways to gain visibility as an expert is to give interesting talks and presentations to groups in your niche. You can find out about speaking opportunities by staying informed of upcoming professional events in your area. As a speaker, you have the opportunity to connect with people who come up to you after the event. And by sharing your presentation online, you can also continue to attract future clients after the event.