The search for work: Making your network work for you

We’ve all had patches drier than a granola bar. In fact, February is for many one of the hardest months to be a freelancer. Luckily, across the month, Rebecca Roberts is here with some top tips to help us secure some clients!

When you embark on your freelance journey and begin looking at how to find work, one of the first routes to convert ideas and conversations into paid work and contracts, is looking at your existing networks. Here are five ways to get your network working for you.

1. Former employers: speak with people you’ve worked with previously. They know what you can do and can provide endorsements on LinkedIn, or references for new clients. They can also recommend you to others in your field, or even bring you in when an opportunity arises.

2. Suppliers and agencies: companies you’ve worked with, used or collaborated with in previous roles can also provide a direct or indirect network of value. You could deliver your services to them directly or ‘white label’ for them to their clients, or gain endorsements and recommendations in the sector you’re in.

3. Professional networks: contacts in other organisations you’ve worked with, associations and member groups (both formal and less formal – such as social media groups for example) can be both a supportive and useful network. They can also provide opportunities for work or ideas about the type of work available.

4. Wider networks: this means friends of friends and friends of family. Talking to people you know about what you do, celebrating it, sharing successes on social media etc, can all help extend the network you have around you. Introductions, recommendations and all-round support can be a helpful and often unearth some helpful prospective clients.

5. Alumni opportunities: many universities and companies put on events to keep you engaged, that may provide opportunities to leverage your network and reconnect with contacts who may now offer a professional network of use to you.

TIP: Develop your ‘pitch’ of what you are or could offer and work out ways to update your network without bombarding it. Remember with networking what goes around comes around – endorsing, recommending and helping others usually comes back to you.

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