Many freelance writers attend networking events in order to get the word out about their services and to land new clients.
Networking is all about making quality connections with other people. In this post we’ll examine how you as a freelance writer can make good impressions on the people you meet face-to-face and increase the probability that you can do business together.
11 Networking Tips for Freelance Writers
1. Attend the Right Networking Events
Pick the formal events (a chamber mixer, for example) and informal events (a party) that are most likely to bring you new writing clients. If you are a very busy person, you must carefully pick what you do: think about the likely return on your time investment.
2. Dress Properly for Networking
It’s always better to be a bit overdressed than underdressed, especially for more formal events. I find that casual business attire works well nearly everywhere. For me this is usually a pair of nice slacks and an attractive button-down or knit shirt, along with comfy dress shoes (typically loafers).
3. Give People Your Business Card
Your business card should be attractive, should explain what types of freelance writing projects you do, and should contain ways to contact you, with your phone number and e-mail address most important, along with the URL of your website, if you have one, or your LinkedIn profile.
Always have business cards with you and always be ready to give someone your card; but pick the right time to do it, like after they’ve expressed interest in your work or asked for your contact information. It’s usually best to ask for their card first before offering yours.
And if you exchange cards with someone, take a few moments to look at the card and make a positive comment, perhaps about the design; or ask a question related to the card, perhaps about the website or services.
4. Be Genuine
Be friendly and seek rapport with people, but definitely be yourself, albeit the best part of yourself. People can tell instantly when you’re being fake.
5. Focus on the Positive
Talk about good things that have happened, are happening, or could happen. Say positive things about other people. Never focus on negative events or engage in gossip about others.
6. Watch Your Language
Keep your observations and anecdotes concise: don’t ramble. And avoid using swear words. While the well-placed use of the occasional swear word can add important emphasis to certain conversations in certain contexts with certain people, you are far more likely to turn people off with coarse language.
Let others talk, and show that you are actively listening by maintaining eye contact with the speaker, facing him or her directly, smiling and using positive body language to show that you are interested. You can often lead a conversation by asking a person questions: think “who, what, where, when, why, and how.”
8. Don’t Be Pushy
Get to know people. Ask them questions about their hobbies, families, and interests in addition to inquiring about their business. Don’t focus on yourself and selling your freelance writing services. Have the intention to discuss what you do, but wait for a natural place in the conversation to bring it up.
9. Create and Polish Your Freelance Writer Elevator Speech
What’s an elevator speech? It’s a 10-30 second summary of your freelance writing business and the services you provide. It’s a way for you to quickly tell someone what you do and why it’s valuable. Have at least 2 versions: one that’s quick and concise, and another that’s longer with more explanation.
10. Remember Names
A person is always happy when you remember her name. Here are 5 important ways to do this:
1. Associate the person’s face with the face of someone you know well who has the same name.
2. Imagine the person’s name written on his forehead.
3. Make up a little song or rhyme about the person’s name.
4. Associate the person’s face with a song that has the name in it, like “Jennifer, Juniper” by Donovan.
5. Keep a list of all the people you meet and review it frequently.
11. Do Follow-Up Communication Promptly
If you’ve promised you’ll send information to someone, do it as soon as possible. If you need to e-mail a thank-you to the host, or to someone who provided you with a valuable lead, do it ASAP.
Suggestions for Improving Your Networking
1. Pick the one networking tip that you don’t currently do, or don’t do adequately, and that you know will likely make a big difference in your freelance writing career, and then put it into action.
2. Choose someone you know that networks well, especially if she or he is also a freelance writer. Ask for specific advice on how you can network better.
Your Take: Networking as a Freelance Writer
How good are your event networking skills? Any tips to add or experiences to share that help you effectively promote your freelance writing at networking events?