If Networking Scares You, Put on the Matchmaker’s Cap

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?

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

28 thoughts on “If Networking Scares You, Put on the Matchmaker’s Cap

  1. What a great article!
    I did get confused though for a second at the end, Lisa J.Jackson, I assumed it was something about me – that was my name before I got married! ( so obviously temporarily forgot that I changed my name..)Small world. But anyway, I found this post very useful so thank you : )

  2. My biggest fear is as you mentioned, not being experienced enough. When I’m in my own circle of friends it’s fine – I’m the only writer. I don’t know many. When I get around other writers I feel intimidated. I met a guy at a festival that lived near me, and he wanted to get together and try and start a writing club. I had no idea what it entailed and was the poorest of poor members purely because I was intimidated that he was in University studying creative writing and I was…well, just a waitress at the time.
    Thanks for the tips!

    • Neuron — one thing I’ve learned along the way is to admit to feeling a bit intimidated — that’s a bit of an icebreaker and a great way to just “put it out there” that you want to contribute but aren’t sure how yet. You might even find a mentor that way. It can be scary to speak up (I know!), but it’s freeing to say “I have no idea what that entails, please tell me more about it.” or “writing scares me!” Writers will relate understand. 🙂 (and we don’t know things until we learn them)

      • Very True! Thanks for the advice! The solution to all things is to face it and admit it, or at least, the first step to a solution. Thanks lady!

  3. That is a very clever idea, trick the introvert psyche into thinking it is helping others – very nifty and I would say very successful. Thank you for sharing, I’ve done well but I think I’ve got almost as far as you can get without serious networking and making connections for my blog and I was having an attack of nerves just thinking about it.

    • It is a neat trick, and it’s worked for me. And at the end of the evening I look back and realize how many questions about myself I answered — coherently and without stressing about them!

      I don’t mind having the butterflies because that means I’m stretching myself, but I do like figuring out how to handle them. 🙂

  4. Agree with you on this,but at times people get confused with networking on social media to develop ones networks which is a scary movie for many;even me 🙂 as you come across majority of unwanted networks too

  5. Pingback: Posts I loved this week | Taylor Grace

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