As a freelancer, you usually complete your work alone. But, that doesn’t mean you should be lonely – or operate your business in isolation. In fact, for your success and wellbeing, you should continuously develop and nurture a deep freelance network.
Here are eight people you need to have in your circle:
This one’s a no-brainer. If you don’t have clients, you don’t make money, and if you don’t make money, your freelance business won’t survive. The number of clients you should have depends on your business model and bandwidth. But – you should always have prospects in the pipeline in case you lose one or more paying customers.
#2: Other Freelancers (and lots of ‘em!)
Other freelancers are usually your friends – not cutthroat competition. For best results, you should have four different kinds of freelancers in your freelance network:
- Freelancers who provide the same service because they can give you industry intel and potentially share gig opportunities with you.
- Freelancers who offer different services – especially complimentary services — because you may be able to collaborate or partner with them.
- Freelancers who are further along in their journey than you because they can be a great source of mentorship.
- Freelancers who are less experienced than you because you can teach them what you know, which hones your skills, gives you a new perspective, and makes you feel good.
I sincerely believe that freelancers need each other to flourish. It’s been true for my business – and I’m willing to bet it will be true for yours.
#3: Other Business Owners
You never know when a business owner could use the service you provide, so it’s good to know and stay in touch with many of them! Remember, every business needs content, web design, graphic design, social media management, administrative assistance, and so much more. When they decide to hire someone, make sure it’s you by nurturing those relationships.
#4: Connectors or Referrers
Some people are born networkers and strive to help others by facilitating beneficial connections. You know the type – they seem to know everybody, and they get a natural high from professional matchmaking. These folks are fantastic, and you should befriend as many of them as possible. Of course, you should aim to return the favor whenever you can.
Freelancing can be a tough road. That means you need people in your corner that will root for you and make you smile when things aren’t going well. They’ll also be the first to help you celebrate your wins! Your cheerleaders don’t necessarily have to be business savvy – just encouraging. Remember: you can’t have too many positive people in your life!
#6: Service Providers
When you’re a new freelancer, you’ll probably have to do everything in your business yourself. But, once the money starts flowing and your schedule gets tight, you’ll probably want to hire help. So, start building relationships with service providers like accountants, virtual assistants, or anyone else that can do what you’d eventually love to offload. That way, when the time is right, you already know who to call.
#7: Coaches or Mentors
Coaches and mentors can help you establish a solid foundation for your business and achieve your goals faster. During your interactions with them, you’ll learn tips, tricks, and lessons from someone else who’s been there, done that. The insight you’ll gain will be invaluable. Plus, they may connect you with potential clients!
#8: Family and Friends
Your family and friends are probably the reasons why you do what you do. So, even though running a freelance business is time-consuming, don’t forget to enjoy life with the people you love. Their support can rejuvenate you when your motivation starts to dip.
How to Build and Nurture Your Freelance Network
So, how do you build and nurture your freelance network? Implement these tips:
- Go where your people are (online or in-person) – and be active there. You’ll build rapport, increase your visibility, and attract others to your circle.
- Ask for referrals to clients, service providers, mentors, etc.
- Make it obvious that you’re seeking clients. Apply to posted gigs. Digitally shout that you’re open for business on your website and social media.
- Join groups – online and offline – specifically to connect with other freelancers or business owners.
- Provide advice (aka mentorship) to a junior freelancer.
- Be direct and ask someone to be your mentor, or hire a coach.
- Be a connector or cheerleader for someone else – the universe will usually reward in kind.
- Schedule time regularly for the people who matter most.
The #1 golden rule of networking: give at least as much as you get. If you make your intentions and desires known, make a consistent effort to meet people, and genuinely try to help others, you’ll be in good shape.
There you have it! The eight people you need to have in your freelance network. Do you have them all?
Remember, as cheesy as this sounds, if you’re reading this, I’m happily part of your freelance network. And you’re part of mine.
Learn by listening? Check out this podcast episode about who you need in your freelance network.