When I first started working as a freelance blogger, I was told I’d have to get out there and meet people in order to be a success.
For me, networking always conjured up images of sharp suits and pushy sales techniques. Which, being a floral dress-wearing, painfully shy girl, scared the hell out of me.
But the days of stuffy events and overpriced subscriptions are a thing of the past. And I’d now have to agree that networking is an essential part of starting out in self-employment. Having a conversation with some one in real life hugely increases the chances of winning business.
There are now dozens of ways to meet new clients, find new customers and meet people who you can work with in the future. And I promise you, the more you network, the easier it gets. Particularly if you ask all the questions. There’s no one quite as interesting as someone who shows an interest in you.
Here’s just a few suggestions on how to network.
The easiest form of networking, and a great way to start out and test the waters. I started out in blogging after joining Twitter, and subsequently started several internships through contacts made on the site.
LinkedIn is great for keeping in touch with the people you’ve already met, or for putting your details out there for potential clients.
Facebook…well Facebook is great for building a brand page and building up a following of customers and fans. Personally though, I think your personal account should be kept for people you’ve met face-to-face or maintained a working relationship with for a long time.
If you’re looking to meet people in your local area, a tweet up is a relaxed and friendly environment to meet fellow Twitter users. It usually happens in a pub, which greases the wheels somewhat.
Ladies Who Latte
Ladies Who Latte is a networking event just for women. My local one is full of inspiring women, busy mums and start ups who just want to chat and enjoy a cup of tea with other local ladies. I’ve picked up quite a bit of business here too. If you prefer an environment with men and women, Business Biscotti is worth a visit too.
I’ve been going to Jelly Co-Working events for about a year now, and it’s ideal for home workers who fancy living the office life for a day. Everyone brings along their laptop and work, then carries on with their work.
I’ll be honest, we spend more time eating cake and gossiping about the latest geeky news. But it’s also great to brainstorm and bounce ideas off others too.
Ok, this isn’t really a type of networking. But one of the hardest things about being self-employed, is knowing when to put down the work, switch off and spend time with your family and friends. But sometimes the most interesting people, and the people that could have a massive impact on your business, are the ones who you meet when you’re not minding your business.
Do you network?