By now we all know that networking is one of the keys to successful independence. But for some, networking is easier said than done. While who you know is important, what you do with those connections is paramount.
Even if everyone knows your name and you’ve got enough LinkedIn connections to fill a stadium, you’ve got to roll up your sleeves and really dig in to get your network working for you.
Are you just starting a new gig, or wrapping one up? Did the client like you so much they extended your contract? Did you learn something important enough to write a blog? Post about it on social media—it’s a great way to let your entire network know that you’re (a) in demand, (b) available for new work (or not), and (c) what you’ve been up to lately.
Bonus Tip: Be sure to keep consistent on social media. You don’t want the only time you show up in someone’s feed to be when you’re tooting your own horn or advertising that you’re available.
Self-promotion is the name of the game. If you, as Liam Neeson famously put it, have a “particular set of skills,” don’t just let them sit there on your resume or profile. Show off your expertise with an insightful blog post or showcase your successes with a web site.
Volunteer as a guest speaker or host a webinar. Jump in on a Twitter or LinkedIn conversation with your expert opinions. It’s much more powerful to show people how good you are at what you do than simply tell them. It also allows your followers and connections to come to the conclusion on their own that you really know your stuff – and to spread the word for you.
Bonus Tip: Follow the 4:1 rule. It’s like the golden rule for social media—for every post you share of your own, share four interesting thoughts from others—that can be re-tweets, industry knowledge, or non-promotional updates.
Networking isn’t always about you. By definition, it’s getting people together with similar, complementary interests. As a freelancer, I have a wide array of clients, and I’ve sometimes been fortunate enough to introduce one client to another when their needs or goals overlap. I like to call this “ninja networking,” because you’re never really promoting yourself directly. However, you’re building stronger relationships with both parties that you introduce because you’re showing them that their business means more to you than a paycheck.
Bonus Tip: Always be on the lookout for any opportunity to put contacts and projects together – two clients, a client and a colleague, two colleagues, a job lead you can’t take on, etc. It’ll help you build a reputation as the person to know.
Leveraging these three tactics (and the bonus tips) will give your network all the reason they need to give you a word-of-mouth recommendation, and give your business additional networking momentum. So, why not give them a try?
Stumped on how to get started? See the examples below. Need more on networking? MBO has you covered.
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