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9 networking strategies for introverted freelancers: Building connections on YOUR terms 

By Outsized

9 networking strategies for introverted freelancers: Building connections on YOUR terms 

If you’re an introverted freelancer wanting to become better at networking, but on your terms, this guide is for you. It introduces strategies helping you attract clients without the need for overwhelming networking events. Discover how to turn your introversion into an advantage when connecting with others.

Tap into the professional networks you already have access to

There are three different types of professional networks:

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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, ensure your contacts understand your skills, the work you can do, and the clients you’re looking to serve. You’ll be surprised to know how much business could be potentially available to you. People in your network might know what you do but not realize how your skills could meet the needs of their business or someone else’s.

Encouraging everyone you already have a relationship with to spread the word about you and your skillset amongst their networks is a simple step for expanding your network of available businesses as an introverted freelancer.

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.

Utilize social media platforms

Engaging with platforms such as LinkedIn is essential for freelancers aiming to widen their network. Ensure to employ both specific and general social media sites for showcasing your freelance capabilities. Not everyone in your circle might be aware of your expertise or how you could benefit their business.

Actively participate in relevant groups, broadcast your professional milestones, and clarify the kind of projects you’re interested in. This approach facilitates a direct introduction of your services to potential clients and fellow professionals, making it a suitable strategy for introverts to enhance their network and advertise their services seamlessly.

Know your ideal environment

Introverts vary in their networking preferences, with some thriving in small groups and others managing well at larger events with intervals for recharging. Identifying your comfort zone is key to networking success. Seek out events that align with your preferences.

For intimate settings

  • Craft insightful questions
  • Practice active listening
  • Engage genuinely to make a lasting impact and gather useful knowledge

At bigger gatherings:

  • Energize yourself beforehand
  • Request introductions from organizers
  • Fully leverage your readiness

Leverage your introverted qualities to enhance your networking effectiveness. Lastly, see your desire for solitude as a chance 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.

Collaborative networking

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 hesitate to reconnect with past clients you’ve had good relationships with, seeking referrals within their networks or direct recommendations. Inquire if they know anyone needing your services or if they have new projects themselves. Suggesting ideas for future collaborations can also spark interest. Keeping up positive interactions with your existing network is a surefire way to broaden it, provided you actively engage with your contacts.

Manage your expectations

Attending in-person or virtual events with live cameras can feel daunting. Remember, it’s more important to form meaningful connections than to gather numerous contacts. Focus on quality over quantity to avoid disappointment and missed opportunities for deeper engagement. Securing one or two substantial contacts is often more beneficial than acquiring a long list of names with whom you’ve barely interacted. Be patient with yourself, acknowledging that building genuine rapport takes time and may involve some initial hesitancy.

Follow up 

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.

Conclusion

In summary, introverted freelancers should embrace their introverted qualities and utilise networking methods that suit their unique strengths. Through strategic, considerate, and patient networking, you can develop impactful connections, secure clients, and build lasting professional relationships that will help drive your freelance success.

And lastly, do keep in mind that everyone’s networking journey is unique, so find what works best for you and modify these strategies accordingly.

About the author

Niclas Thelander is the Founder & Chief Marketing Officer at Outsized. He started his career in banking with leading Nordic bank SEB, then worked as a strategy consulting manager at KPMG. He later held in-house strategy and corporate development leadership roles in banking and insurance. Before founding Outsized, he was Director of Value Creation at emerging markets private equity fund LeapFrog Investments, driving growth, impact, and efficiency projects in portfolio companies across Asia and Africa.