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Tuesday, 10 September 2019 07:26

How do I build a network of friends and clients as a freelancer, without attending graduate school or working at a job?

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I don’t believe not attending graduate school or working in a job should hinder you in any way getting out there and developing your professional network.

You describe yourself as a freelancer but don’t provide any details as to what field you’re working in.

While there is value in developing online network connections, most people want to do business belly to belly. That is, they want to do business with people they like, know and trust. That means to develop a professional network you have to get out there and meet people.

I believe in the value of targeted networking. In my book Power Networking for Shy People: How to Network like a Pro I outline a system to help people whether they are shy or not level the playing field when it comes to networking.

I would start off by checking Eventbrite to see if there are any professional/business events coming up in your local community. Many of these business events provide meet and greet sessions or networking sessions that allow you to meet other individuals.

Before doing so you will want to have developed your introductory elevator pitch and be comfortable with it. Many of these events post the names of those people who are planning on attending. This can be a good source of identifying individuals you would want to make contact with at the event. If you’re taking this step in advance, you would then research individuals online, using LinkedIn as an example, learn something about them, so when you actually meet them you have something to talk about.

Another strategy, based on whatever field you are working in, would be to look for associations, alumni, working groups etc. and determine if they have any meetings that would be open to the public. If they are local meetings and you have the ability to attend them, go for it.

At the same time you still need to develop your online connections. My understanding of freelancing is you have to look at the global market. This means many of your customers don’t live in your community.

This is where LinkedIn comes into play. Both LinkedIn and Facebook have groups you can join and participate in. As you contribute to the groups it can be easy to raise your profile within the groups. Doing so can lead to opportunities to connect with other people and like-minded individuals. If you participate regularly in these groups, you can become considered as a thought leader. Becoming a thought leader increases your reach and can generate invitations from other people to connect. Which in turn increases your reach even further, builds your network of connections and can lead to opportunity, both personal and professional.

 

Originally answered on Quora.com 

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