Do you cringe when someone suggests that you get out and ‘network’ with other writers, business owners, or creative types?
Networking can be intimidating, I know. As an introvert who excels at listening, networking can give me butterflies if I think it’s all about me and my business and needing to say the right thing to the right person.
I’ve found a trick that helps with the anxiety. I put on a matchmaker’s cap. I go to an event with the intent to focus on others instead of myself.
Here’s what it entails: focusing on learning about a person and his/her needs and then seeing if I can connect that person with the ‘right match’ by the end of the evening.
If you do this, people will learn about you and your experience. And if can connect two individuals with specific needs to the person they are looking for, they’ll remember you — and what you do. And when they hear about a writing need, you’ll be a referral they can give.
Networking takes time, here are some other matchmaker-like tips that may work:
- If you don’t have much writing experience yet, become a source for referrals; be open to recommending a more experienced writer if your experience doesn’t fit a stated need — if that referral gets hired, ask to shadow the process as a way to learn and gain experience.
- Provide useful information through your blog, website, or other social media outlets. You don’t have to know everything. If you find an article or interview another writer, share that with your audience — you’ll get known as a person with resources and/or a person who knows how to find information.
- Find a writer to emulate to build your confidence and experience. You’re probably already subscribing to newsletters or RSS feeds and following some successful freelance writers — what is it about those people that attracts you to them? How do they keep your attention week after week? Start emulating them with your own content and build your own following.
- Attend events that attract the types of businesses you want to work with. As you get to know someone, you’ll learn more about a particular company and be able to learn the correct contact name or department.
- Graphic designers can be a great resource for freelance writers — as not all designers are writers and not all writers are visual. Finding a designer who works with companies you’d like to write for can pay dividends for both of you.
Consider this: if you were looking to hire a writer, would you contact folks you already know, or start cold calling random writers? You’d call people you know.
In all my years as a freelancer, the majority of job opportunities have come from relationships I’ve developed with people.
What do you think? Does networking seem a little less scary now?