When you consider networking, do you see a group of individuals mingling and attempting to sell their services to one another while swapping business cards and “elevator speeches”?
You know, some individuals take pleasure in such things. And when they do it well (a rare ability), they receive substantial advantages. Rewarding connections include new customers, joint venture partners, skilled advisers, and helpful friends… in other words, partnerships that benefit both parties.
However, for many of us, attending a networking event is on a par with washing an irate cat. Even if we believe it should be done, we would prefer to be flea food.
Do not be concerned. There is much more to networking – and much less to it – than you believe! You may get the same fantastic benefits without mixing with a large group of strangers.
Important: When it comes to networking in general, the idea is to create strong connections. Provide people with your time, attention, guidance, ideas, recommendations, support, praises, referrals – and maybe even your company. Give, give, give… and you will get more than you can fathom!
There are several methods to get freelance employment via networking, even if you despise small talk. The following are four compelling instances.
1. Spread the word about your web company to your family and friends
This may sound self-evident, but you’d be surprised at how many individuals fail to do so.
You are not required to market your services/products to family and friends, but you should most definitely not keep them a secret! You’ll have several opportunities to discuss your interest in internet marketing and generating money via your online activities during casual talks. Simply plant the seed and it will ultimately blossom into an unexpected source of revenue.
And keep in mind that even if your relatives and friends do not need the products/services you provide, they very certainly know someone who does.
Each individual is connected to an average of 250 other individuals. If you choose not to promote your services to cousin Annie and neighbour Tom, you are passing on a chance to market to hundreds of individuals they know!
2. Participate in online networking
This is accomplished online, from the convenience of your home office. Apart from the obvious advantages of avoiding face-to-face interactions, virtual networking enables you to develop contact lists and participate in online communities made of individuals from all over the globe. The majority of these folks you’re unlikely to encounter under any other circumstance. Your virtual network may expand in size and speed far quicker than any other kind of network.
Are you subscribed to someone’s email list? (Of course!) When they want your opinion, express it. When they bring up a subject that interests you, respond to them. If they’re offering something that you believe would benefit you (and it fits your budget), purchase it – and then provide them favourable comments.
The key is to establish yourself as someone they recognize and appreciate hearing from, rather than one of the many nameless names on their email list.
Participate in online discussion forums, particularly ones frequented by your potential clientele. Lurk before you leap so you don’t jump in and accidentally make a fool of yourself (not good for winning clients). Read the blogs to get a sense of the atmosphere. Participate when you have anything meaningful to share. If the forum rules allow it, include a signature block that has a link to your website. However, DISCLAIMER: DO NOT SELL YOUR SERVICES! Freely provide useful advice. The idea is to show your knowledge, expertise and desire to help others.
Key: Eventually the forum members will get to know you, like you and trust you. The next natural step for them is to think of you when they (or people in their network) need the products/services you provide!
3. Show off your talent
Write, write, write! Submit articles to online article directories, write reports and/or ebooks, create your own website and e-zine – put yourself and your knowledge/skills on display, always including your contact information. When appropriate, offer to provide free special reports or articles for people with whom you’re building connections through your virtual networking activities.
Consider giving free workshops related to your niche through your local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club or other groups. If you have a job, check into offering “brown bag” (lunchtime) sessions on topics such as “10 Tips for More Earning Money Online in Your Spare Time” for your coworkers.
Key: You want to become the obvious person people will think of when they need your expertise or the products/services you provide.
4. Attend seminars
What types of seminars, workshops, conferences or meetings do your customers attend? Go to those events. They are networking goldmines and offer many opportunities to engage in natural conversations with people you want to meet. You don’t have to schmooze or pitch your services. Just be friendly, ask questions, participate in discussions, and be yourself.
Key: You’ll not only learn about the specific issues and topics your target customers are interested in, but you’ll also build relationships with them at the same time!