From the development of new contacts to the building of long-term partnerships, there are so many benefits to be harnessed with a strong network. But the prospect of networking can be daunting, particularly if you’re of a quiet disposition and/or new to freelancing. These were just a few of the key points raised in our latest panel event, where we focused on the power of freelance collaboration.
This event was chaired by Victoria Rodwell, Head of Partnerships, IPSE, with the panel of experts including Author, Speaker, Trainer and Entrepreneur Alison Grade, Founder and MD of Raptor PR Rana Rahman and The Work Crowd Co-founder Madeleine Weightman.
Check out the key take-aways in this blog.
Realising the Freelancing Opportunities
There’s immense positivity and expectation when it comes to the freelance role in rebuilding the post-pandemic economy. Flexible employment is being seen as a viable option for businesses across the world. It will be interesting to see how this evolution benefits freelancers over the coming months and years.
“I think it's an amazing time for freelancers. We've certainly seen at The Work Crowd, a massive rise in the number of clients registering and looking for freelance talent. And I think what's great is [that] the pandemic has proved that people can work remotely, they can work flexibly, [and] they can be trusted to do a great job. I think there's huge opportunities at the moment for freelancers who are in the market, but who are also looking to get into it” Madeleine.
Leveraging The Power of Networks to grow your business
Rana reflected on his personal experience of working as a freelancer, collaborating with a number of agencies and building a foundation of experience until late last year. Networking proved essential for the development of his business after overcoming the initial challenges of Covid. He was able to develop an agile model, drawing on the support of other freelancers, such as freelance copywriters, social media consultants, and comms consultants to move from an independent freelancer to a virtual PR agency.
Being virtual; “From a client perspective it’s absolutely critical, because we can dial up or down a comms campaign according to client needs.”
As to how the freelance talent should get started, Rana recommended networking like crazy; building connections via the well-known social media platforms and leveraging the power of referrals and recommendations.
Approaching Potential Clients
As a new freelancer you may well be wondering how to make the best use of business-focused networks and email marketing. Do you begin the conversation by letting potential clients know how awesome you are and that you’re on the lookout for work? Or do you take a more subtle approach and let them know that you’d be happy to go for a coffee?
Alison explained her approach to networking, saying, “my instinct is very much okay, who do I know? Who knows someone who knows someone? So I'll go through the leads approach and just be like, okay, so I want to talk to you. When I was trying to get my book published [I] went through [the] complete cold calling route, sending in pitches [and getting] an offer that way.
[Look] through and [think] about who's in your network. Who knows someone who knows someone [and] can help you get that warm introduction? How do I find someone that I can get introduced to, rather than just going in cold?”
Building Remote Networks
Many freelancers have had their first taste of virtual networking since the onset of the pandemic. And remote networking is sure to prove increasingly popular, particularly for those who don’t like the idea of standing in a room with a group of strangers.
Rana shared his networking tips, with a focus on virtual community engagement:
“You definitely need some kind of timeline strategy. It could be a series of events where you know a particular group of people. If you're starting out I would definitely just study communities, create a list of people you want to approach, do your homework [and] find out what platforms they use. Try and get as much knowledge beforehand [so that you have] more confidence to make that first step to engage with somebody.”
Creating Diverse Collaborations
Virtual networking channels provide the opportunity to connect with professionals from across the world. From a marketing perspective, a business's customers are diverse and often global. If we are going to effectively market and communicate with them then we need to understand our customers. This requires us to have a diversity of experience and knowledge; all the more reason to build diversity into our networking approach.
“At the end of the day, as a freelancer, you are your own personal brand [and] you're establishing your own business. I think it's very foolish to think that you're only going to go for mini carbon copies of yourself, because that's totally going to restrict your opportunities. I think just having that open mindset [and] ensuring your network is diverse will ultimately present more opportunities,” Madeleine commented.
Victoria concluded the webinar asking the panel for their one top tip for people looking to network and building their business as a freelancer.
The panel’s concluding tips:
The panel were thanked for their contributions, with freelancers of all specialisms being encouraged to check out The Work Crowd’s weekly #FreelancerFriday.
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