This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.
Have you ever had a freelancer freakout? I had my first one last week when I looked at my pipeline for the coming month. Why the freakout? Because my pipeline was empty.
For months, all I wanted to do was focus on my work and create create create. So, I spent all of last month doing that.
I cleared out old projects and finished up projects that had been on my to-do list for forever. But I forgot to do one thing: network.
Therefore, when the month was up and my clients were closed out, I had no new ones to replace them with.
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As creators, we want nothing more than to completely immerse ourselves in our projects. But if we do that without coming up for air, we won’t have a pipeline of new projects waiting for us when it’s time to move on.
Do that once and you can learn from it. Make a habit of it and it could spell failure for your business.
That’s why it’s so important to build networking into your weekly to-do list before you end up with a wake-up call like the one I recently had.
After my freak out, I realized it was time to stop worrying and start doing. So I joined a new job board and I sent a bunch of emails.
This time I got lucky and was able to line up a few meetings in a short period of time. But what if I hadn’t gotten so lucky? What if no one responded to me?
My freelance career could’ve ended practically before it began.
Don’t let this happen to you. Yes, to many of us creators, networking can feel smarmy; and it can take us away from the work we really want to be doing.
But we’re fooling ourselves if we say we’re creating 24 hours a day. There are times of the day when our brains fizzle out and we need to walk away. That's the perfect time to network.
Think about the point in your days when you’re likely to feel mentally exhausted and drained of creativity. Usually, this happens around the same time each day, so go ahead and block it out on your calendar for networking.
Then send some emails. Research potential new clients or members of your community. Set coffee dates for those times.
Not only will you be able to get your networking done without it impeding on your work, you can find something productive to do during what would normally be your most frustrating time of day.
Whether you’re a freelancer, creative, or entrepreneur (or all of the above!), you should never stop networking. Making new connections is important to your bottom line, but it’s also important to your business and your sanity.
Plus, you never know what one meeting could lead to. Putting yourself out there frequently increases your odds for whatever good may come your way, so get to it and happy networking!