Three Simple Ways To Grow & Sustain A Healthy Network
Are you heading into a slow season of freelancing? Are you wondering how you can stack the deck in your favor and begin planting seeds for new clients and projects?
If you answered yes, this post is for you.
While building up new business during slower seasons can be challenging, it doesn't have to be complicated. Previously, I shared ten actions you can take when your freelance income dries up. In this post, I share three strategies you can use to prevent seasons of financial famine from occurring in the first place.
Let's Get Active Online
When I first began freelancing, I was only a few months into blogging publicly. While I shared great concepts, my writing was not as strong as it is now. But that was okay because, with effort, progress happens organically over time. I found freelancing success as a result of embracing my faults and engaging in the community anyway. This alternative open approach was inspired in how I started my marketing company which was the opposite way. We presented ourselves much better than we were.
What we present publicly attracts specific types of audiences, prospects, and eventual clients. If we attempt to be better than we really are, we're setting our future engagements up for failure because we're attracting clients with higher expectations. It's best we're genuine and attract those who value what we authentically bring to the table.
Without perfection, I shared my posts on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter in 2014. The reality was most people who saw them didn't click on the links I shared, and those who did didn't always read it. But, what active sharing did was keep me on the top of their mind. They kept seeing me on LinkedIn share my articles, as well as other author's content. In fact, someone who is not blogging or not confident in their own blog should at least be sharing content they are confident about. This is because what mattered most in sharing was that I was doing it, not the content.
The other great benefit about my LinkedIn activity is people could see what I offered as a freelancer on my profile. Those intrigued would reach out to me directly. As a result of my sharing activity, my profile views went up, and new clients found me.
Let's Make Connections
Another opportunity that cropped up after writing regularly on my blog was my ability to have a meaningful reason to contact people. Based on what I wrote, I could follow up with a contact or prospect and share the link. It could be my own article, but it could also be a resource created by someone else. Sometimes, I would share something funny or a music video because it reminded me of the person. Even during the four years of journaling in Evernote from 2010-14, I was still able to privately share links to my notes with people I thought could benefit. In other cases, I shared wonderful articles, podcasts, and videos that helped me.
The important point was that I stayed in touch with people by providing value, and giving is a powerful way to sustain relationships. People want to help those who help them. While it's best not to expect anything for our generosity, we can trust that giving to our community will lead to a prosperous workload.
Let's Connect, For Real
While the first concept above was casting a broad net, the second was narrowing where I cast it. This final point is geared towards moving the relationship forward in a meaningful way. While publishing creates dynamics that make it challenging to ask for help, or have meaningful conversations, meeting in-person with people is a wonderful way to grow personally and professionally. These regular meetings give people the opportunity to ask what we're doing, what's new and how they can help. It gives us an opportunity to find needs and empower others. It's in the meetings where new ideas, new relationships, new connections, and new paying work comes. And, most of the time when I propose these meetings, I do it without an agenda. This elevates the priority of the relationship above my professional agenda. If we do have a specific agenda, it's best we clearly communicate it ahead of time. When we have healthy relationships, we have a foundation to ask for help when we need it.
Now, Go Make It Happen
To move forward in the journey, we need a healthy network which requires a broad online presence, ongoing private sharing, and finally, we need to individually meet with others so we can harvest the fruit (friendships, connections, resources, & new projects) of our labor. We can not do it alone, so jump into your community, give generously and receive abundantly.