2003, 2004, 2005 & 2006: Named one
of the 101 best Web sites for writers by Writers Digest Magazine.
How to Network Effectively to
Secure Freelance Work
When freelance copywriters ask me what type of marketing is the easiest, costs the least, and yields the best results, I don't hesitate to recommend networking.
Networking satisfies the two primary prerequisites to securing clients. These two prerequisites are:
—Creating rapport. Networking has the ability to create immediate rapport. When you create rapport, the prospect is in total agreement with what you're saying to him. Rapport has the ability to create feelings of trust and honesty. When a prospect has your complete trust and honesty, he's more inclined to outsource work to you.
—Establishing a relationship. When you establish a relationship, the prospect begins to develop an awareness as to who you are, what you do, and what your intentions are. Relationships have the ability to keep your name fresh in the prospect's mind, as well as to create feelings of intimacy, trust, and rapport. Relationships have the power to turn prospects into paying clients, simply because the prospect knows you on a first name basis, knows how your skills and services can benefit him, and he connects strongly with you.
Networking builds effective relationships faster than any other type of marketing. Many beginning freelancers get their first paying clients via networking or through people whom they know (the rapport and relationship have already been established). And professionals often expand their existing client-base via networking—asking clients, friends, other freelancers, etc. if they know people who can use their copywriting services.
Where to network effectively
The other type of association to join is the one where your type of clients congregate. Why spend hundreds of dollars targeting your audience and mailing them promotional material, when joining a local association that attracts your clients lets you sell directly to them via networking.
How to make networking work effectively
Networking must be done on a consistent, repetitious basis. You'll want people to become familiar with your face and recognize your presence at each gathering. Because many people seem passive at gatherings, always make an effort to become active. Strike up a conversation with people, and pretend you're interested in what they're saying, even if you're not.
Conversations are the crux of effective networking because simple one-on-one talk allows the prospect to find out more about you, and you're able to find out more about him, his needs and his problems.
Networking should not be used for your own personal gain. You cannot—and should not—blatantly promote yourself to people, otherwise they'll begin to ignore you. Instead, you must take advantage of striking up conversations with people and subtly sell yourself to get work, but to make people interested in yourself and to let them know what you do. When people begin to take an interest in you as a person as well as what you do, then they'll begin to take an interest as to how you can help them with your freelance services.
What you need to network effectively.
• Instead of being the listener, become the speaker. Prepare a presentation related to your expertise and specialty in your field for a future meeting. Prospects will be impressed by your information and will want to hire you for their next project.
• Offer a free report to the organization's members. Your free report should be related to your specialty that offers professional advice. Again, prospects who'll read your free report will find you informative and insightful and will think about hiring you for their next project. See if you can get your free report mentioned in the organization's newsletter.
• Distribute promotional and informational material. If you know that a certain meeting or workshop is related to your specialty, ask the speaker if he/she would like to distribute some of your free information to the audience at the end. This may include a free report, or an article that you've written, or your own business newsletter that contains useful tips and advice.
Brian Konradt is the owner and operator of FreelanceWriting.com, a Web site dedicated to help writers master the business and creative sides of freelance writing. Mr. Konradt is also the principal of BSK Communications & Associates, a communications/publishing business in New Jersey, which he established in 1992.