How to market your freelance services: part 4

Posted on: October 7th, 2010

5 tips for successful networking

“I’ve never got any business from networking.”

“I hate networking.”

“Networking takes up too much time.”

I’ve said all of this in the past, but things changed when I discovered how networking could work for me. Here are my five tips:

1. Join the group that’s the right fit for you

There are 1001 networking groups out there. Do your homework and find the group that’s going to be right for you.  Go along as a guest to see what you think before you commit yourself to a year’s membership.

2. Be clear about who you want to meet

Are you intent on meeting solicitors from small law firms? Or maybe your target audience is marketing managers in the pharmaceutical industry? Whoever it is, tell the group organiser exactly who you want to network with. Then, if it’s a sit-down meal, ask to be sat next to them. Or, if it’s a stand-up event, ask to be introduced to them. Don’t leave the opportunity to network with them to chance.

3. Organise one-to-one meetings

Always make sure you follow up and organise one-to-one meetings with at least one person you met at your last networking event. Even if they are unlikely to become a customer of yours, they may well know someone who could be. Always ask them “Who are you looking to be introduced to?” and put them in touch with anyone in your network of contacts who might fit the bill.

And make sure you tell them exactly who you are looking to be introduced to. Be as specific as possible. It doesn’t have to be potential new clients. It could be you’re looking to rent desk space in a creative agency, or maybe you’re looking to team up with another freelancer. You’d be surprised just how many new contacts you can make just by asking the right question.

One-to-ones don’t have to be time consuming or expensive. Simply arrange to meet at a nearby coffee shop for an hour.

4. Go to networking events that you will enjoy

There’s no point in joining a breakfast group if you hate getting up early. Similarly, if you dislike speed networking events, make sure you give them a wide berth. It sounds obvious but you’ll get much more out of a networking group if you actually enjoy being there.

5. Prepare your one minute speech carefully

A lot of networking groups go round the table and everyone talks for one minute about what they do. However, make sure that you never talk about WHAT YOU DO. Instead, talk about how the service you deliver will BENEFIT the people round the table . That’s because people aren’t the slightest bit interested in what you do. However, they will sit up and listen when they discover how your product or service might be of help to them.

What’s your top tip for networking success?

Related articles in the ‘How to Market Your Freelance Business’ series:

Tell everyone you know what you’re doing

Get a website

Create a marketing plan

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