4 Ways to Build Your Professional Network
One of the best ways to find success in business is by building a trusted network you can rely on. But if you're new to freelancing, finding new contacts (and work) can be tricky. Here are some ways to build your network and find the colleagues, clients, and mentors to take your career to the next level.
1. Use the power of social media
Facebook isn’t just for liking photos of your friend’s babies and dogs—use it to connect with colleagues by searching for professional groups in your field. There’s groups for advertising professionals, writers, photographers, filmmakers—even gender specific clubs like “Freelancing Females.” Try joining a few—they're the perfect place to get inspiration, advice and even find opportunities for work.
LinkedIn can also be a powerful tool for building your professional network if you use it proactively. Take the time to actually engage with others on the platform. Follow thought leaders in your field, read and like articles, and comment on articles you find interesting or valuable. Writing your own posts on LinkedIn is a great way to showcase your expertise and foster community with connections and potential clients.
2. Attend networking events & conferences
Networking events can seem daunting, but they’re a great way to find people who are also looking to beef up their contact list. It’s much easier to start a conversation with someone when you know they’re looking to network, too!
There are so many events and conferences out there, you should be able to find a few that really interest you. Plus, if you attend a conference about something you’re truly passionate about, you're bound to meet others who share your passion—and probably learn a few things along the way.
3. Turn personal contacts into professional assets
Ask friends and family if they know any potential connections for you. In fact, if you make your business intentions known to your social circle, you’d be surprised at how many people will offer to introduce you to great contacts!
Keeping in touch with former coworkers is another a smart way to get work, since they’ll have connections in the same field. They’re also great resources for advice on jobs, rates, and inspiration.
4. Let your alumni association work for you
Remember when you paid way too much money to go to college? Let that tuition money keep working for you by taking part in alumni events. Many schools have city-specific alumni groups that host monthly events, or if you still live near your alma mater, check in with former professors to see what sorts of events and services they provide for alumni. And don’t forget to be loud and proud about your college affiliation. Sometimes just being a graduate of the same school of a potential client can help you stand out from other applicants.
Follow these simple steps and with a little extra time and effort, your network will thrive.