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How to Network Effectively to Secure Freelance Work
When freelancers ask me what type of marketing is the easiest, costs the least, and yields the best results, I don't hesitate to recommend networking. Networking satisfies two primary prerequisites to secure clients. These two prerequisites are:
Networking builds effective relationships faster than any other type of marketing. Many beginning freelancers acquire their first paying clients via networking or through people whom they know (the rapport and relationship already exist). And professional freelancers often expand their existing client-base via networking - asking clients, friends, other freelancers, etc. if they know people who can use their freelance services.
Where to Network Effectively
Professionals suggest you join two types of associations: The first type is a local association that attracts freelancers of your discipline. If you do commercial copywriting work, join a local writer's association. Many local writers' associations offer referral systems and job banks to help you receive work. The other benefit is that you will meet other freelancers who'll ask you to assist on their projects or refer their clients to you for freelance or supplementary services.
The second type of association to join is one where your type of clients congregate. Why spend hundreds of dollars targeting your audience with expensive marketing, when joining a local association that attracts your type of clients lets you sell directly to them via networking.
How to Network Effectively
Networking is only as effective as you are: the more visible you make yourself, the better networking works. Always arrive ten to fifteen minutes early for each meeting or social gathering and mingle with people. Let everyone know who you are and what you do. Most importantly, make an effort to establish relationships with people. When people know who you are and what you do, they'll know more about your business, how your freelance services can help them, and that you're available for hire.
Nurture a habit to network on a consistent, repetitious basis. You'll want people to become familiar with your face and recognize your presence at each gathering. Because many people seem passive at gatherings, try to make an effort to become active. Strike up conversations with people; pretend you're interested in what they're saying, even if you're not. Be a good, active listener.
Remember: conversations are the crux of effective networking. Simple one-on-one chatter allows the prospect to uncover more about you, and you're able to find out more about him, his hidden needs, and his hidden problems.
Networking should not be used for personal gain. You should not blatantly promote yourself to people, otherwise they'll begin to ignore you. Instead, strike up conversations with people and subtly sell yourself. When people begin to take an interest in you as a person, then they'll begin to take an interest as to how you can help them.
What You Need to Network Effectively
Business cards are often synonymous with networking: don't leave home without them. Pass your business cards out to any person who seems interested in your services. Business cards give prospects contact information and they keep your name and business fresh in their minds. If prospects are not interested in outsourcing work to you now, they'll at least have your business card on file to contact you in the future.
Editor: You may reprint this article online or offline as long as no text is altered and it is reprinted in its entirety.
About The Author
Brian Konradt is a former freelance copywriter and graphic designer, and founder of FreelanceWriting.com (http://www.freelancewriting.com), a free web site to help writers master the business and creative sides of freelance writing.
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