Are you a freelance writer who wants to network in person with potential clients that can pay you the good money you deserve for your writing services?
Then you must use your brains and go where you your potential clients go. In this post I target freelance writers who want to write for businesses and nonprofits in the region where they live. Trust me, unless you live way, way out in boonies, you can land good local clients as long as you discover where they congregate so you can network with them.
In-Person Networking Opportunities for Freelance Writers
Local Chamber of Commerce
Wherever you live, you’ll find one or more chambers of commerce. (If you live outside of the United States, you’ll find similar organizations in your country.) For example, I live in the Rogue Valley of southern Oregon. The two main chambers of commerce are the Ashland Chamber of Commerce and the Medford Chamber of Commerce; both are large groups with numerous businesses that need freelance writers. There are also several smaller chambers for nearby communities.
Each chamber typically has a weekly “greeter” networking meeting where you will have the chance to give your elevator pitch to all attendees and then meet individually with prospective clients afterward.
BNI is not for everyone. Each BNI group meets weekly and it has a high annual fee for membership. Furthermore, they kick you out if you frequently miss meetings.
That said, the right business freelance writer in the right BNI group can get a lot of business. Here are two articles about BNI:
Business-Related Meetup Groups
Meetup hosts a wide variety of groups for entrepreneurs and business owners. See what’s in your local area. It’s usually free or very cheap to join a Meetup group.
Local Service Organizations
Joining service organizations like Rotary and Lions can provide the ability to network indirectly with many important people in the local business and nonprofit community. You’ll want to keep your networking subtle, but as your fellow members get to know you, they’ll want to help you out, and that can lead to some big contracts.
You also have another important opportunity with such organizations that doesn’t require your joining: giving a presentation to a member meeting. The presentation needs to be interesting and important, and it shouldn’t be an obvious direct pitch for your freelance writing services, but your topic can dovetail with what you offer.
I’ve been a member of University Toastmasters in Ashland, Oregon for nearly three years. It’s a great way to meet a wide cross section of your local community, and I’ve seen several members create business connections with each other. (I’m currently at Advanced Communicator Bronze, for those of you familiar with Toastmasters.)
Industry-Specific Business Groups
Look for meetings of business groups in your area or within a reasonable driving distance. Perhaps it’s a home builders conference, or a regional tourist conference. Attend and make connections. The attendees need business writers, but you’ll likely be the only freelance writer there.
Best In-Person Networking Techniques
Go read my post “The 11 Top Event-Networking Tips for Freelance Writers.”
What local networking venues work best for you? Any major categories I missed? Share your advice and stories below in the comments.