The Freelance Networking Success Recipe

What I’m listening to: Scars by James Bay

Are you a drive-by networker?

You are if you have accounts on several social media sites, but fail to show up on any of them with any kind of regularity.

You are if you contact clients one time and never follow up.

You are if you talk only about yourself and never engage your followers.

You show up on social media just long enough to rant about something personal or try to get work via pity and guilt trips.

Each of these instances comes with its own set of problems, but the solution is simple.

Successful networking in its simplest form: show up, shut up, and share. Click To Tweet

I get it. You get busy with clients, with articles, with other things. Meeting new people and staying in touch with those already in your network slides down the list of priorities until pretty soon, it’s dangling from the to-do list by one syllable.

So how are you going to meet that next fantastic client if you’re not bothering to connect or reconnect?

Time to schedule your networking.

That’s right — schedule it. I love a good list as long as it’s not miles long and neck-deep in details. If you like details, hey, go for it. It’s your schedule.

  • Make a contact list. This one is easy — who would you like to be connecting with and who in your current network would you like to reconnect with? Write down as many names as you like.
  • Break it down. Okay, so forty names are on your list. You’re one person with a 40-hour week, so let’s see how many people you can reach in one day. Eight? That works, because you can easily say hello to eight people, right?
  • Time it. Easy part — give yourself 15 minutes a day. Maybe the beginning of the day or at lunchtime. Whenever you aren’t distracted. Those are your networking minutes.
  • Personalize. You’re going to send personal messages, so just forget sending them all a link to your new blog post or article. Instead, send them a link to something relevant to them, or ask them their thoughts on a current trend, or hey, just say hello and ask how their day is going. Better would be to go to the company website (if it’s a company), read the latest press release, and engage on that level. You decide.
  • Schedule your communication. Different than making the schedule — this is setting the time your tweets, Google+ shares, or emails will go out. Do a little digging around and experimenting to find out when your group of people are on social media or open to getting that email (I like Tuesday afternoons and Thursdays after lunch). Learn how to use that feature in your TweetDeck or Hootsuite app that allows you to schedule all the tweets you like on any day/time you like. Saves your having to keep bouncing back to social media at specific times.
  • Repeat. Seriously, repeat the process every week. Pretty soon it will become second nature, and you’ll find your connections becoming stronger and your name more recognized. Remember, every social media guru out there started out with an account and a message. If they can, you can.

Writers, how much attention do you pay to your networking?

Where does the majority of your networking occur?

What type of networking has had the most impact for you?

Any advice on how to network more effectively?

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