How to expand your network as a Freelance Designer
Posted: 25th March 2013
If you happen to be a freelance web designer, I hope you are already aware of the fact the only way you can ensure steady flow of works is by networking. Ah, networking! Who does not love networking? You are going to shake hands with people, taste some mouth watering delicacies, plaster a fake smile to impress others, go gaga over your achievements, exchanging business cards and of course listening to countless number of boring lectures. But sometimes, even after giving your hundred percent, you might find yourself struggling to get new clients. Same thing goes with smart people who like to do networking online. They do weird things like sending portfolio links to prospective people, get connected with people on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and then start bombarding them with promotional mails. Sounds familiar? Of course, it does, because in the early days of our career, we all have done this just to wake up to the reality that it does more harm than good.
So, you might be wondering how on earth you are going to market your skills so that you do not run short of projects. Ok, here I am going to give you a roundup of what you should be doing while trying to stay connected with prospective clients.
Do Not be Desperate
Desperate people do desperate things. I know you need projects badly but that does not necessarily mean that you will be badgering the lives of others by sending them bulk emails, sending friends request in Facebook or trying your level best to get connected with them in LinkedIn. These are traditional networking ideas and believe me; it will not work for you. And deep down your heart, you know the reason why it will not work. Yes, because everybody around is following these traditional networking ideas and thereby increasing the chances of your networking attempt being ignored.
You simply take recourse to traditional marketing when you find that you have no project left and you need one to get your business going. But there is a thin line of difference between networking and marketing. The purpose of networking is to know each other and then making the most of that acquaintance. Now, what you are currently doing is far from this basic concept of networking; in fact, you are just riding on the common marketing technique whose sole purpose is to get business.
You need to get out of this sickening mentality. You need to learn to network like real man who does not need anything in return. You need to make people aware how you are going to add value to his social life. Make sure that it is not going be another fly by night affair. Make sure that you are sending him occasional messages like a New Year Wish or post something nice on his birthday and I think he will remember you for long. So, when you will be approaching him for new projects, you will not look like another stranger strolling in the dark.
Stay in Touch
I hope you believe in long-term relationship despite overwhelming number of people preferring one nightstand. What I am trying to say is that when you at networking, you need to make sure that you keep in touch with people that you met at a conference or at any business meeting. Just exchanging business card or shaking hands with that person is not enough; you have to stay connected to that person. So, do not forget to call him once in a while or chat with him occasionally just to keep the relationship going. By doing so, you will be able to set yourself apart from the masses and therefore, when you will be approaching him for some offer, he will certainly have a look at your mail with patience.
Effective networking is all about staying at the top of people’s mind. Now, this is easier said than done. Since you cannot push people to receive your emails or respond to your chat request, you have to try to do network indirectly. You need to establish yourself as a thought leader in your niche. However, I know the difficulties involved in the process but there is no way around. You need to take some out of your busy schedule to promote yourself as a dashing designer always bustling with creative inspirations. Yeah, you are not going to get paid for this but its impact will be far reaching.
When you are trying to grow your network for the first, it is highly likely that you will end up offending some people. But do not take this by heart. This is bound to happen when you are taking on a new enterprise. Rather you should be trying your best to learn from the mistakes so that you do not repeat them anymore. This is the only way you can attain perfection.
These are few things that you can easily integrate with your networking initiatives to see better results.
This guest post was written by Michael Evans, who loves helping small business organizations and is associated with MotoCMS, which is an advanced Flash CMS.