As a freelancer, it is tough to see through the uncertainty that COVID-19 has created. The future of many industries remains unclear. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we all seek help from each other, and strengthen our networks, in order to succeed as freelancers.
If this pandemic has taught us anything, it should be that we realize how much we need each other to survive and thrive. This African proverb says it all — “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others”. To build a successful career, pandemic or not, we need to work together.
Below are five ways to connect to others during the pandemic and increase your overall success as a freelancer.
1. Reach out to professionals who can provide referrals
You can get referrals from professionals in your industry whom you may have worked with previously, other freelancers or editors who have reviewed your work, and previous clients. Authenticity is a concept that clients highly value and word-of-mouth, through referrals, is proven to be an essential form of self-marketing. And, by seeking these referrals, you can forge new relationships, or revitalize old ones.
Social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, and blogs are scanned by your prospective clients in order to determine your utility, so make sure to find referrals to represent your brand effectively. After you gather enough referrals to attest to your skills, make sure to use them. Display these referrals on your website and share them on your own social media accounts.
A study conducted by Nielsen Global Connect, a global information provider, says that 84% of consumers around the world consider word-of-mouth recommendations to be the most trustworthy form of advertising that is posted online. You will need to seize the moment and document every positive interaction, with the permission of your referrer, of course, so that you don’t miss any significant praise.
2. Connect with other freelancers
Other freelancers will provide you with a sense of community and opportunities to thrive.
“Sticks in a bundle can’t be broken, but sticks taken singly can be easily broken,” is a fable people refer to in order to express the importance of community. You are your own boss, but you still need the support of others to succeed.
You can create a network with other freelancers where you can ask each other questions in a safe space, use each other for referrals, and check each other for accountability. COVID-19 prevents you from in-person casual mixers, but you can still attend them virtually. Find other like-minded individuals and watch your business flourish. Below are a handful of global virtual networking events you may want to attend:
- Centricity Network for B2B Professionals
- Speed Networking Events
- WeCoffee Morning & Networking in Slack
- Women of Wearables
- The Rebellious Business Network
There are sure to be local virtual meetups in your area. All you have to do is find them and join in on the conversation.
Collaborating with others is yet one more way to expand and strengthen your network. You can reach out to other freelancers to complete a large project, or even work with a local business to grow your brands together.
3. Keep in touch with past contacts
You can look to old coworkers, bosses, mentors, and even college professors to help you find and acquire a myriad of opportunities. These professionals have their own networks and if you nurture these relationships they can result in future gigs or important clients down the road.
A personalized email to check up on a client or coworker from the past will put you on their radar and give you an opening to offer your abilities if they are ever needed.
Politeness and the occasional nod on social media outlets such as Facebook and LinkedIn can help you to build trust, rapport, and open up avenues to new contacts. Maintaining a network of professionals doesn’t have to consume your time and energy. A little bit of communication can go a long way.
4. Regularly check-in with a mentor, therapist, or life coach
It is important that you are aware of your mental health, and seek help with any distress you face throughout troubling times from dedicated professionals. Your network can be expanded in more ways than one.
This is a time to take the bull by the horns and be proactive about your mental health.
A recent CDC study noted that young people, especially Blacks and Latinos, show a substantial decrease in their mental health in reaction to how COVID-19 has affected their social lives. Although we are all facing hardships, we do not all have to crumble. Empower yourself through others who can employ you with the tools that you need.
Speak with a mentor, life coach, or even a friend who is willing to lend an ear, and don’t be afraid to share your thoughts about work or the world at large. Maybe you can be that friend or mentor to someone else. Either way, you should look at your mental health as one of the most important pillars of your career success.
5. Reach out to your support system
Your overall health, and success, will thrive with the support of others. It is important to maintain contact with friends and family even though social distancing is keeping us apart. These people are your support system, and you are a part of theirs.
The care you give to others will boomerang back to you. Keeping these connections active will not only benefit your mental health but will also keep the communication lines open for when new opportunities arise.
To network is to survive
It’s okay to feel overwhelmed at any point of your freelance journey, especially during this pandemic, but remember that you are not alone. Use these networking tips to maintain and grow your network of references, clients, coworkers, friends, and family. Each member of your network is vital to your growth as a person and a freelancer.
AND.CO can handle the paperwork so that you can focus on your network. Let us help you create a proposal or write up a freelance contract. With the nitty-gritty details out of the way, you can get back to what you do best.