by Leanne Rollins, Membership Manager
Networking is the key to freelancing
Up until a few months ago, I held a very traditional view of networking. To envision how I viewed networking, think of a room full of potential job seekers, who are striking up stilted conversations with anyone in earshot hoping to reach that one person who might put them in touch with an opportunity. Itís enough to make me shudder.
The bad news is that this form of networking actually takes place. Worse still, there are many people out there who seem to feel that this is the best way to seek out work. But I have realized that networking takes many forms, most of which are more natural and more successful than the scene described above.
Creating your circle of friends
You know those ugly little stone Ďcircle of friendsí thingamajigs that were in vogue a decade ago? I think of that little circle when I think of my own network. A network is simply a broad range of people, placed in a metaphorical ring all around one person. What makes your own circle significant is that these people in your network know you, and more importantly, they know what you do.
When you are looking for a full-time job, your circle is important and can land you that one great opportunity at the perfect time. When you freelance, your circle is CRUCIAL and you can NEVER stop building and refreshing your network.
Building your network
So how do you build a network? Everyone networks differently, but here are a few of my methods:
Refreshing your network
Once youíve connected with people, donít let them forget you. You donít need to pester; just send a gentle follow-up email, or even a snail-mail letter to thank contacts for their time (who doesnít love getting letters?). I prefer the high-tech method of communicating, so I tend to rely on email follow-up and avoid the telephone whenever possible. I figure a follow-up email is non-threatening, and the person can read it on their own terms, which makes it seem less intrusive. Even if youíve lost touch with people over the years, itís never too late to reconnect. Natural curiosity will get a reply to most ďHi, how you have you been, want to have lunchĒ emails. Offer to pay for the lunch, and youíll have an instant networking lunch date (and a tax write-off). I have lost count of the number of lunches that Iíve eaten since January that were mainly for the purpose of reconnecting. I average two lunch dates per week, although I have to reschedule often due to client demands.
My best advice is to think of your network as a reciprocal arrangement. You do for me; I do for you. There are lots of ways to do this, but a few simple ways I use are:
In my opinion, a broad network is key to successful freelancing. Itís definitely been an overwhelming factor in my early success—to date, all contracts Iíve landed (except one) can be directly attributed to individuals within my circle of friends. How cool is that?
Iíd love some input about what youíd like to see here next month. How to estimate projects? How to handle tough clients? How to make sure you get paid? Email me at email@example.com and let me know of any special topics youíd like me to write about.
About Leanne Rollins
Leanne recently became a self-employed contractor, escaping management roles for the first time in years. This newfound freedom has allowed Leanne to take on extra-curricular activities such as a more active role in the STC. When not writing or playing with her kids, Leanne enjoys running and soccer.
In this issue:
Contents | President's Message | General Meeting Announcements | Council Meeting Minutes | Evolution of an Editor: From Quill to Quarry to Qantas | Director Sponsor's Message: The Seasons and the STC are a Changin' | Freelance 101: Chronicles for the Self-Employed | Council Spotlight: Student Awards & Volunteer Coordinator | Membership Update | Information Architecture and Content Management | View from the Other Side: What I Did on My Summer Holidays... | Launch of the STC Training Program