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.
Choose Your Best Freelance Writing Niches…
With my short and powerful self-guided course that explains:
— 7 aspects of your life that can lead to lucrative freelance writing niches
— How to research a potential freelance writing niche for viability
— 9 ways to increase your expertise
— And much more
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?
Earn Well Creating Curriculum Content
- Prepare your résumé and sample materials
- Find editors eager to hire you
- Land that first curriculum development assignment
Get details on creating:
- Test and quiz questions
- Lecture outlines
- Instructor guides
- Student study guides
- And much more
Cathy Miller says
John, your timing is superb. I am waiting for a flight to fly to an industry symposium as I type. 🙂
A tip I’d add is to put where you met on the back of your business card and, if possible, have your photo added to the card. Business cards are so inexpensive that I had some printed with my photo and “Met at 2014 Wellness Symposium” on the back.
That helps frequent attendees of such events to remember you.
John Soares says
Cathy, I really like your business card idea. It makes very good sense if you’re going to a large multi-day event where you’ll be meeting a lot of people.
Sharon Hurley Hall says
What an excellent idea, Cathy!
Great tips, John. In addition, I also prepare a one-page business overview that I hand out to those who express an interest beyond the business card.
I do something slightly different — after we talk, I’ll turn their card over and write something memorable about them or our conversation. It’s so much easier when you’re going over 50+ new cards after the event to remember “Oh, this is the guy who wore that neat tie” or “the woman who talked about her kid’s graduation.”
John, these are great suggestions. I might add one more — even virtual meetings can be fruitful if you share something somewhat personal. Some people crave that kind of connection. Doesn’t work for everyone, but it does work with some clients.
John Soares says
Two great suggestions Lori! Smart way to trigger specific memories of people in your first suggestion.
I’ve also made good use of your second suggestion. When it feels appropriate, I’ll mention that I hike a lot. I used to mention my golden retrievers whenever I could. Sadly, they’re no longer with us, but they did help Daddy make money to pay for dog food.
Yep I should do that more often. It’s the only way weeks later that I remember.
Hi John, do you have samples of elevator speeches for writers? Thanks for this post…very timely.
John Soares says
Marcie, I don’t have specific samples. However, if you Google “elevator speech” you’ll find lots of samples that you can adapt.
Some great thoughts and reminders of dos and don’t’ when networking, John.
One thing I found over the years it that many folks don’t really care too much for networking events. I tend to call some “hard line” networking events “business card orgies.” Those types of events tend to be high pressure and it seems everyone is trying to shove their business card in your face.
People that cringe at high-pressure networking might consider educational events instead. Think conferences, seminars/workshops, business organization events such as those hosted by SCORE. MeetUp.com get togethers are another one. They have groups for just about everything under the sun and often have speakers who do a short bit.
Educational events are usually low-stress events. The primary purpose for most attendees is to gain some type in knowledge or insight. That said, there’s usually some type of loose networking before and after the event. Many have some break time in between that can also be used to network.
Educational events tend to be more audience-specific. As such, writers who concentrate on a niche or two can likely find an event that’s perfect for them. Another trick, if it can be called that, is to sit toward the front and a bit to the right or left. Most workshops and seminars have a Q & A period. Ask an question, but frame it correctly to maximize on the promotional value without going overboard. Something such as, “As a freelance writer for the XYZ industry, I’ve noticed several of my client are experiencing ABC. Can you comment on that?”
You get the idea.
It can also be good to wear something recognizable, but not completely off the wall. Save that for Lady Gaga. A colorful sweater or bright shirt might do the trick. The other attendees will remember it. For example, they might say to someone during the mid-break, “Did you catch that question by that woman in the red sweater?”
Oh. And for Marci, I’m pretty sure I have some elevator bits around here. Email me and I’ll get them to you if they’re still on one of my hard drives. Elevator blurbs, as mention, should be short. They should also engage the other person. At a lunch event, for example, when asked what I do, I answer, “I help companies communicate better with their audience.” That almost always leads to, “Really? How do you do that?” And a conversation is born. Plus, asking how I do that is loads better than, “Oh. Can you pass the salt?”
John Soares says
Excellent advice Neil. Thanks so much for sharing how useful education events can be for networking.
I also like the idea of wearing colorful clothing that will be easy to remember. Actually, that’s why I’m wearing a teal-colored button-down shirt in my photo here on this blog and around the Internet.
Excellent post! Thank you for sharing your experience with those of us who are, for the most part, just starting out.
John Soares says
Happy to help Roxanne. I hope it helps you land some good clients.
Thanks. I happy to learn you found it useful.
Yup, most people wouldn’t think of wardrobe as a marketing tool. But, there ya go. It’s the little things that mount up over time to make an impression on prospects and clients.
John Soares says
Neil, I wonder what you think about the 3-5 days of beard growth I often have, including in my pic here on the blog. My partner Stephanie loves it, and it fits well with my alter ego hiking writer persona.
Jennifer Mattern says
Great tips John! Especially the ones about remembering names. Admittedly, that is not my strong suit. I’ll have to keep your ideas in mind. 🙂
John Soares says
There are several techniques for remembering names. There are two I use most frequently:
1. Mentally picture the person talking with other people I know with the same name.
2. Make a rhyme of the name and another word, and then repeat it mentally several times.
Sam Mudra says
Thanks for sharing these valuable tips. I am an SEO professional, employed in couple of good companies for around 3 years and currently working as an independent SEO consultant for last 4 years. Though my profession needs direct and physical communication but I am a bit lazy and prefer online networking. But recently I have started my own setup and now I am feeling that I have to get out of my comfort zone and meet people face-to-face to communicate. Now, as I did not have such experience in past, I was a bit uncomfortable and confused about how to communicate effectively that will help my business and others as well.
After reading these points I am feeling a bit clear and confident of meeting people. I will follow your tips and keep you posted about my new experiences. By the way thanks a lot for sharing your experiences with us and especially for educating me on this.
John Soares says
Sam, effective networking in the right venues can make a big difference for many businesses.
Anne Wayman says
All works. I also keep business cards with me when I’m doing non-network stuff, like grocery shopping, browsing in the library, etc. It’s amazing how often the opportunity shows up to tell people what I do… of course, I usually start with a smile and say hello just to get things started, or a complement or a question…
John Soares says
Informal networking can happen anywhere: parties, the health club, coffee shops. Like you, I always have a few business cards with me.
You have shared a thorough professional advice for freelance writers like myself.
From my experience, all the points mentioned are valid and holds true in helping one to get the needed attention, however, I have discovered that the use of business cards help a lot in retaining and maintaining the business relationship.
And not just that, giving a business card means you are a professional that knows what he’s doing.
All other points will not convert positively well if you do not have and/or share your business card.
Thanks for sharing.