You may have heard the saying “It’s not what you know, it's who you know.”
Well, it couldn’t ring more true across the creative landscape. That’s why networking is so crucial to your success.
However, the thought of networking could have you rolling your eyes, especially if you’re not sure where to start.
But fear not, I’m here to help.
In this article, we'll explore why networking is essential for creative freelancers, and how you can grow a strong network that will benefit both you and your business.
Why is networking so important?
As a creative freelancer, you may have a flawless portfolio and a unique set of skills, but without a strong network, you may struggle to thrive.
In today's world of content marketing, exposure is key. Brands are now investing more in creative services than ever.
But, with so much creative talent around, it's crucial for you to get your name out there and build a reputation to get. that. bag.
That’s where networking comes in - consider it the secret formula for promoting you and your services to get the exposure your creativity deserves.
By building valuable relationships with others in your industry, you'll be surprised at how many new work opportunities may come your way.
However, networking isn’t just about getting paid, it's also about seeking advice from industry professionals, discovering new projects, and learning from others.
As the saying goes, "you don't know what you don't know."
As a freelancer, you may often work alone with no colleagues to brainstorm with. (I sometimes catch myself talking to my cat.)
But by networking with other like-minded individuals in your field, you may discover fresh ideas and unique perspectives to keep your creative juices flowing.
So, where do you start?
Define your goals and target audience
First things first, it's important to define clear goals and your target audience.
What makes you stand out?
Who do you want to connect with?
What do you want to achieve from these connections?
Answering these questions can narrow your focus and ensure your networking efforts don’t miss the mark.
For example, if you’re a model, your target audience may be freelance photographers or modelling agencies. And your goal may be to secure more modelling gigs to expand your portfolio.
Providing value is potentially the most important factor when it comes to your freelancing endeavours.
If you don’t provide any value, why would clients want to work with you?
I’m sure you have a bunch of skills and a unique perspective that could benefit others.
The key is to show them off!
Whether that’s through posting on social media, sharing your portfolio or an in-person conversation; showcasing the value you offer will not only prove your expertise but also establish you as a problem solver.
“If you create value, people will come to you, that’s it.” - Simon Vaza
Just remember, providing value is a two-way street. It’s not just about what you get out of the relationship, but rather what you can offer to others.
Let’s say you’re a photographer and you’ve connected with a startup founder who needs help producing content. Instead of going straight in with the hard sell of your services, offer some advice or refer them to a colleague who may be better suited to the project.
By establishing yourself as someone who is helpful, reliable, and genuinely interested in others, you’ll build credibility and a community of people who value your contributions.
Your business as a freelancer ultimately revolves around you and your personal brand.
Not only will a solid personal brand build your reputation and attract clients, but it also helps you to differentiate yourself in crowded industries by showcasing your unique style.
With your goals and target audience in mind, start developing your personal brand by creating content that speaks directly to them and aligns with their interests!
Make producing content for yourself an obligatory part of your workflow.
Your work may speak for itself but you also need somewhere to show it off!
Invest some time into creating a professional-looking website and portfolio of your best work to demonstrate your creative prowess in a tangible way.
This is the first place a potential client will go to learn more about you and your work. So, keep it up to date with your best stuff to positively influence their decision on whether to connect with you or someone else. Make that first impression count.
Your personal brand should reflect your unique style, personality and core values. Use it to establish yourself as a trusted freelancer who delivers exceptional work.
Events make for the perfect conditions to network and form genuine connections in your industry.
They provide a platform to meet like-minded individuals who share similar interests, challenges and goals.
Don't just flutter around gathering business cards, work on building relationships that can blossom over time as you never know who you may bump into.
Connecting with other freelancers can lead to potential collaboration, job opportunities, and referrals for future clients.
Remember, these events are less about pitching your services and more about building those genuine relationships and expanding your network.
Look out for local meetups, industry conferences and workshops in your city that cater to your interests and creative niche.
We have just the thing!
Check out BeazyMeet - a monthly meetup for creatives to connect and collaborate in cities across Europe.
This is an obvious one!
Social media has become one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways for creative freelancers to grow their network and personal brand.
Whilst events can be super valuable for making new connections, not everyone enjoys the thought of schmoozing strangers.
But luckily, you have the internet at your fingertips.
Leverage the insane potential of social media by creating meaningful content that provides value to your followers - See how it all links together?
Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket either. It’s not just Instagram I’m talking about here.
There’s no harm in branching out and experimenting with different channels to reach a greater audience.
The possibilities are pretty much endless, but here are a few examples:
- Join communities
- Write a newsletter
- Post TikTok videos
- Twitter threads
By using a range of channels you can spread your value further and increase your chances of reaching potential clients and valuable connections.
I have to give an honourable mention to LinkedIn. No other platform can compete with its organic reach, making it an incredibly powerful tool to showcase your work and connect with other professionals in your area of expertise.
To put this into perspective - Our CEO's impressions were up 361.6% in just 2 weeks of posting valuable content!
However, If you don’t fancy creating original content, low-key interactions are the way forward.
Engage with others through likes, comments and reshares. This strategy will keep you fresh in the mind of other users and lead to those all-important conversations.
Keep your profiles up to date and professional looking to make a solid first impression for those looking to connect.
Keep in touch
Once you’ve made an initial connection, it’s important to follow up and stay in touch to nurture those relationships.
Don’t be afraid to send follow-up emails, connect on socials and check in with them now and again to stay top of mind.
This doesn’t just apply to new connections, maintain genuine relationships by reaching out to past clients. Consider asking them if they have any other clients who may benefit from your services.
Whether it’s sliding into their dms or jumping on a quick call, staying connected will make a huge difference in building high-value relationships and securing job opportunities.
As a creative freelancer, a referral from a satisfied client is perhaps the best form of marketing for your business.
Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals from existing clients or members of your network.
Start by reaching out to family and friends to give them the lowdown on what you do. Encourage them to promote your services across their own network.
You never know, they may have a connection who is in desperate need of the exact service you offer.
Establish yourself as a valued member of your network by promoting others’ services whenever you come across a project that may be better suited to someone else. They’ll take note of the generosity and may return the favour later on.
Remember, other freelancers in your network are friends, not foes. Avoid seeing them as competition. We’re building a community here.
BEAZY TIP: Keep a spreadsheet of contacts you’ve developed over the years and take them with you on your journey.
We’ve all been told to use our manners. And for good reason!
Showing gratitude can go a long way when building on those relationships across your industry.
Whether it's a previous client, colleague or whoever hooked you up with that sweet referral. Simply shoot them a thank you email or grab them a drink next time you bump into them.
Gratitude doesn’t just prove how much you value your network but also helps to strengthen relationships.
BEAZY TIP: Don’t underestimate the impact of saying thank you and showing your appreciation.
This may sound counterintuitive if you’re looking to get paid - but hear me out on this one.
Volunteering your skill set for free can be an exceptional way to grow your network, build your portfolio and bolster your credibility
This one is especially valuable for those of you just starting out in the industry and looking to gain professional experience. There’s no shame in interning with a company or individual who could offer mentorship and guidance.
Growing your network is extremely important for creative freelancers such as yourself.
It helps to give your work credibility, strengthen your brand and find new work opportunities. You may even make some new friends along the way.
Plant enough seeds and the rainforest will grow.
Why not start right now? Join our community of 8000+ creatives looking to connect.
See you there! 😁