The best marketing you can do is network with freelancers. A bold claim, I know. But I stand behind it. Building a strong network will help you grow your freelance business.
Why Building a Network with Freelancers will Help You Grow Your Business
If the idea of traditional networking fills you with fear and loathing, allow me to present a different way. Think of networking as making friends with like-minded freelancers and treating them well instead of attending awkward events with strangers and trying to pass out business cards.
Doesn’t my way sound better?
In order to network with freelancers you have to avoid thinking of other freelancers as your competition. It’s easy to slip into a scarcity mentality and view every gig as something another freelancer can steal but the truth is there’s more than enough work for everyone.
The freelance life is tough enough as it is, and isolated. Make friends with other freelancers and see what you can do to help and support them. It will make a huge difference to your own business.
But maybe this still doesn’t make sense. I understand. When you haven’t experienced the amazing give-and-take of a true network this approach seems counter-intuitive. I’ll give a couple examples from my last year of freelancing to help you understand.
I attended a webinar through one of my professional networks, Canadian Media Guild Freelance on how to price your work. As part of the training, the presenter asked if the attendees would share our hourly rate with each other. She said freelancers have to stick together and talk with each other about their rates, how they charge, how they put projects together…and more.
But we’re so afraid to share. Maybe we’re charging too much! Or maybe we’re not charging enough! Maybe we’ll reveal how much we don’t know if we say anything! Here’s the truth: you’re stronger when you ask questions and share with one another. Imagine how empowered you’d feel about your pricing if you knew what others charged and could stand behind your quotes with confidence!
I have a friend who is just getting started in her freelance career. Earlier this year I taught a series of workshops and she came out in support, which I appreciated. A few months later we met up and she shared a bit more about what type of work she was thinking about pursuing. So you’d better believe when a colleague asked me if I knew anyone who was looking for work in exactly what my friend had said she was looking for I referred her first.
Now, this may seem like an obvious choice but think about it. I know lots of freelancers. I could have referred any number of equally talented, qualified, available people for the gig. So what made this friend stand out? Well, for one she supported me at one of my events without expecting anything in return. And for another we stayed in touch and she shared what she was looking for. So when the opportunity arose, she was at the top of my mind.
Helping others helps you
Get it? Helping each other benefits everyone. Share what you learn with each other and help each other out when you can. Referrals are the freelancer’s bread and butter so keep your freelance friends close. Listen to them, support them, ask them questions, and refer them when you have an opportunity. Introduce them to people you think they’d benefit from knowing and grow your network one by one. And, hopefully, they’ll do the same for you.