9 networking strategies for introverted freelancers: Building connections that work for YOU
While traditional networking events may seem overwhelming, it’s essential to understand that introversion doesn’t equate to social ineptitude. By capitalising on more flexible and personalised networking methods, even the most introverted freelancer can build a strong web of connections that leads to a consistent stream of clients. In this article, we’ll reveal effective strategies tailored specifically for introverted freelancers to help them navigate the networking landscape with confidence.
Tap into the professional networks you already have access to
There are three different types of professional networks.
Firstly, operational networks encompass individuals such as current or past colleagues, trade group members, or fellow freelancers who operate within your specific field. These contacts possess direct knowledge and familiarity with your industry.
Secondly, strategic networks consist of contacts who may not work in your field or industry but possess valuable advice or exceptional networking skills that can be beneficial to you.
Lastly, personal networks encompass your family, friends, school connections, professional meet-up groups, and acquaintances from social media platforms.
When considering individuals falling into any of these three categories, you will likely discover numerous individuals who present potential networking opportunities and whom you already know and feel comfortable approaching.
Spread the word
Once you’ve looked at who you know that will help expand your professional network, make sure that those in your various circles know exactly what it is you do, what kinds of work you’re capable of doing, and what kinds of clients you’d like to take on. You’ll be surprised how much business could be potentially available to you once you’ve done this. Many of your friends, former colleagues, and family may have a general idea of what it is you do but may not realise your skills are a perfect match for their business or the business of someone they know. Encouraging everyone you already have a relationship with to spread the word amongst their networks about you and your skillset is a simple step for expanding your network of available businesses as an introverted freelancer.
Utilise social media platforms
One of the most obvious methods for networking for freelancers is utilising social media platforms like LinkedIn. Virtual networking is an ideal method for expanding your network as both a freelancer and an introvert. Social media platforms allow for a measured response and a controlled message- and the range of people you can tap into is broad. There are a variety of social media platforms that are built specifically for businesses, freelancers, and networking- but be sure to take advantage of classic social media platforms as well. As mentioned above, you’d be surprised at how many people currently in your social circles aren’t sure what you do, or don’t know that you can help them or their business. Seek out groups of other freelancers, stay active in those communities, and share content about your field, your recent jobs or successes, and the types of clients you’d like to connect with. Seek out forums or pages that cater to your field of expertise or industry and seek out pages and groups that include your ideal clients, introducing yourself and your services virtually
Know your ideal environment
Some introverts excel in smaller groups, while others can adapt to large events with breaks to recharge. To build a successful network, it’s crucial to know what works best for you. Find networking events that suit your style and comfort. In smaller groups, prepare thoughtful questions, listen attentively, and actively engage with others to leave a positive impression and gain valuable insights. For larger events, boost your social energy beforehand, ask organizers for introductions based on your skills, and make the most of your preparedness. As an introvert, embrace your strengths by offering thoughtful insights, observing non-verbal cues, seeking meaningful conversations, and utilizing written communication. Lastly, indulge in your need for solitude as a way to recharge.
Virtual networking channels
In today’s digital age, introverted freelancers can leverage virtual networking channels to expand their reach. Attending virtual networking events, participating in webinars, joining online communities, and utilising professional networking platforms can provide opportunities to make meaningful connections. These channels allow introverts to showcase their skills, engage with a broader audience, and establish relationships without the pressure of in-person interactions.
Collaboration with other freelancers or professionals in complementary fields can enhance networking opportunities. By working together on projects, exchanging referrals, and forming partnerships, introverted freelancers can expand their network and tap into new client bases. Collaborative networking allows introverts to leverage the strengths and expertise of others, explore different industries or markets, and create a supportive community of like-minded professionals. This approach enables them to highlight their individual strengths while avoiding the pressure of interacting with larger audiences.
Ask for referrals
Don’t be shy about reaching out to previous clients with whom you’ve had a successful working relationship and asking for them to refer you to those within their network. You can also ask them directly for recommendations of other potential clients. Do they know anyone who could benefit from your services? You can also touch base with previous clients to see if they have any new projects, they’d like you to work on, or present them with ideas for future projects that you’d like to work with them on. Maintaining positive communication with your existing network will undoubtedly lead to network expansion if you leverage your contacts.
Manage your expectations
If you are attending an in-person event or a virtual event with cameras on, it can be a bit intimidating- awkward, even. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Quality connections are more valuable than the number of connections, so be patient with yourself and expect a few stops and starts. Going into an event with the expectation that you’ll gather dozens of contacts can set you up for disappointment or frustration when you haven’t managed to achieve that- or cause you to skip out on potentially valuable connections when you’re busy trying to gather too many contacts to successfully build rapport with. Coming away from a networking event having made one or two quality contacts can prove much more valuable than gathering a pile of names that you barely remember speaking with.
Follow-up is key after leveraging personal networks, attending events, or reaching out to potential clients. Within a few days, send a personalised message referencing previous conversations, expressing interest in continuing the connection, and offering assistance. Written communication is crucial for introverts in networking, allowing them to connect, express themselves, and foster relationships. They can effectively use follow-up messages or emails to reflect, share insights, and sustain dialogue in a thoughtful manner.
In conclusion, as an introverted freelancer, embracing your introverted nature and leveraging networking options that align with your preferences and strengths is key to thriving in your networking efforts. By being strategic, thoughtful, and patient, you can establish meaningful connections, attract clients, and foster long-lasting professional relationships that contribute to your success as a freelancer.
Keep in mind that everyone’s networking journey is unique, so find what works best for you and adapt these strategies accordingly.
Found this article to be useful? Click here to download our mini-guide, which highlights some of these strategies, and share it with a friend.