Whether you’re completely new to freelance consulting, or you’re a seasoned pro, here’s a simple thing you can do right now to improve your freelance consulting results.
It’s something you probably already know that you should be doing (or doing more of), but you just never seem to get around to it, or you keep putting it off…
What is it? Networking!
“Groan…” I hear you say. Yes, I know, not everybody is a fan of networking. I get it. But here’s the thing – your network and connections (which also impact your visibility and reputation) have a huge impact on your ability to find and win work. And let’s face it, finding and winning work is the biggest fear (prospective and established) freelance consultants have.
I can honestly say that networking is what had the biggest impact on my consulting career in those first few years, and I probably wouldn’t have made it work without it.
Networking Pays Dividends
I have literally had complete strangers contact me about working for them, because they’d spoken to a third party who had recommended me. In some cases, I didn’t even know the third party. Let that sink in. I didn’t have to go looking for that work or even advertise directly – I simply did good work, and grew my network.
It doesn’t matter if it’s face to face, one on one, in a group, online/virtual, or even via email – it all helps. Keeping in touch with, growing, and getting to know your connections will only help you. It might be quick or it may take some time, but in the long run, networking is crucial to your success as a freelance consultant.
And my number one piece of advice: don’t do it with the expectation of getting work/clients; be genuine when connecting with people, help others when you can, and know that it will pay dividends for you – one way or another.
Networking Can Be Easy
You don’t have to join a professional networking group and give presentations, or swap a hundred business cards every week. Just join a group (or two) who align with your line of work, or who have similar/complementary clients to you. Then attend their events, even just once a month, and talk to people.
You can also organise coffee or lunch catch-ups with colleagues (one-on-one) where you can get to know them and their needs better. And they can get to know what you do in more detail too, making it easier and more likely for them to refer you.
Side note: I don’t even have business cards any more. After an event or meeting, I follow up by connecting with the people I met with on LinkedIn.
Networking Can Be Enjoyable
Once you get the hang of it, you could even start to enjoy it. No, really.
It’s also a way that you can help others, by connecting them with people who you think could benefit from the connection – which feels good in itself, but is ultimately good for you too. People remember people who help them.
Regardless of new tools and technology, like automation and social media, business is still largely conducted via people. Those other things help, but individuals ultimately make decisions about who to hire and work with.
So get out there and network!