Does the word “networking” make you cringe? You’re not alone! Well, there’s bad news and good news. Freelance networking is essential as you build your career. AND it’s much, much easier than you might think.
Even though most of us dislike talking to strangers, we all have to do it sometimes. The conversation feels extra awkward when you’re specifically trying to make connections to advance your career.
And yet, freelance networking is crucial. The internet definitely comes into play, but some surveys indicate that upwards of 85% of jobs are found through networking!
Building your network is an essential investment in your career. If it’s strong enough, your network could yield new, exciting, and high-paying clients.
How to Be a Freelance Networking Pro
Luckily, networking is not as hard as it seems. It really comes down to one simple question.
When you have the opportunity (at a networking event, or something much more random like an elevator), put yourself out there. Introduce yourself with your name and what you do, and find out their name and title. Then continue the conversation with this one line:
Key Question: “How Did You Get Into That?”
There are three reasons this is a perfect question:
- People love to talk about themselves. And they love to share their stories.
- You might learn something! People have unique ways of building their careers, and you may pick up a few ideas for building yours.
- As they respond to your initial question, you can ask for more details about their story. (“Fascinating! What did you / How did you / When did you / etc.?”) It becomes easy to flow into a back-and-forth conversation.
Don’t forget to tell your own story, too! You’ll find openings to let them know about your trajectory and how you’re building your freelance business.
If you ever feel stressed out by the prospect, remember that all networking—even freelance networking at a friend’s party—is simply a conversation between two people. You’re just chatting and hopefully learning something from one another.
When you start out with that one magic question, you make the whole conversation painless.
Your turn! Do you have any other go-to networking questions or tactics? Let us know in the comments below!