Networking and Collaboration: 8 Strategies for Freelancers
Freelancers often thrive by forging strong professional connections, so we've gathered insights from managing consultants to psychologists on their most effective networking and collaboration strategies. From forming strategic professional partnerships to joining freelancing groups and using platforms, discover the top eight strategies that have led to successful collaborations and expanded networks.
- Form Strategic Professional Partnerships
- Combine In-Person and Online Networking
- Offer Value and Leverage Social Media
- Personalize Outreach to Editors
- Provide Free Value to Potential Clients
- Connect Through Sports and Social Clubs
- Create an Offer Before Collaborating
- Join Freelancing Groups and Use Platforms
Form Strategic Professional Partnerships
Many years ago, I met a woman at a professional conference, and we hit it off. We worked in the same field and sold to the same audience but did entirely different things. For about seven years, we became a “team.”
We spoke on the phone every morning at 7:30 a.m. to commit to what we were going to accomplish that day or to ask for advice. Also, we used Skype at the time, so throughout the day, we would Skype one another with questions or triumphs.
We attended and spoke at the same conferences, but again, on different topics, so we could introduce our audience members (a.k.a. prospects) to the other person. It was a very lucrative and symbiotic relationship for a long time.
Combine In-Person and Online Networking
As an independent filmmaker, screenwriter, content creator, and small-business owner, the most effective strategy for me has been a combination of in-person and online networking. In-person events include attending film festivals, writing groups, and collaborating with local film groups. Also, I joined an independent filmmaking cooperative in my hometown, which led to a contract to create and provide screenwriting courses for them.
Film collaborations have also led to producers and writers reaching out to me for story coaching and help with rewriting their scripts to strengthen the stories and make them more marketable. Many of these connections came from both the work environment (i.e., on film sets) and networking events, such as film festivals, industry mixers, and events.
Online, the best way I've made connections has been through cold outreach offering guest posting services. After providing successful guest posts to several websites, I was asked to become a regular paid contributor to a business in my niche.
Offer Value and Leverage Social Media
When reaching out for networking, offering something of value (like sharing expertise, providing a useful resource, or referring a client) can foster a positive relationship. This is the most important step—always.
Leveraging Social Media Platforms: Platforms like LinkedIn, X, Threads (the new "Twitter" by Meta), and industry-specific forums are great for connecting with other professionals. Regularly sharing insights, engaging with others' content, and taking part in discussions can increase visibility and credibility. One such industry-specific forum is the recently released SEOFomo by Aleyda Solis.
Attending Industry Events and Conferences: Whether virtual or in-person, these events offer opportunities to meet peers, potential clients, and industry leaders. Actively participating in workshops or panel discussions can further enhance one's network. My suggestion is to opt for the in-person ones, as people tend to be more open during face-to-face interactions, and you are perceived as more reliable when someone knows you in person.
Joining Freelancer Communities: Online communities and groups specifically for freelancers, are great for networking, sharing experiences, and finding collaboration opportunities.
Regarding successful collaboration, I met some very cool people from a software development and digital marketing agency a few years ago at one of the co-working places where I used to work. We got along and started hanging out as colleagues and friends. At some point, we decided we could work together.
They had some SEO proposals and a lack of a dedicated person on their team at the time, so I jumped in and started freelancing for them as well. This was all thanks to the co-working office we shared, of course.
Personalize Outreach to Editors
In freelancing, it's all about how you connect with others, especially when expanding your professional network. What's worked wonders for me is taking a proactive, personalized approach to reaching out, particularly to editors of relatively big publications.
The main goal is to do thorough research to find common ground, build a relationship, and stand out in a sea of AI-generated emails. This strategy, though time-consuming, is worth it in the long run.
For me, it not only opened many doors for conversations but also led to several successful collaborations and gigs, many of which continue to this day. And it's strategies like these, coupled with continuously learning new things and improving my skills, that helped me gradually increase my freelancing income by 125 times over 15 years. It's all about human connection, and even more so in the AI era.
Provide Free Value to Potential Clients
As a freelancer in the competitive field of link-building, where quality often gets lost among low-value offerings, I've developed a unique networking strategy: I give away immediate value for free.
In the realm of link-building, this means offering a high-quality link, typically valued at $500, at no cost. I actively engage with the LinkedIn community, reading at least 40 marketing-related posts daily. When I spot potential clients or partners, I reach out with this offer instead of a generic introduction.
It works because I instantly show the quality of my work and establish trust. And the lead is completely safe because they don't have to pay for anything. It's backed by the principle of reciprocity in psychology, where people naturally want to return favors.
Connect Through Sports and Social Clubs
I found that getting involved in sports activities outside of work was a great way to expand my network. For instance, I joined a tennis club in my area, and through regular matches and social events, I could meet new people and make connections with folks who work in various industries or have connections to potential clients.
Last year, I met a talented freelancer who specialized in web development. As we were talking, we realized that our skills and expertise complemented each other perfectly, and we collaborated on a project.
Through our collaboration, we could combine our web development and business skills to help a client launch a website for their new business. This not only strengthened our professional relationship but also led to referrals and recommendations, expanding our network even more!
Create an Offer Before Collaborating
Whenever you want to collaborate, see what the person or brand needs, create it, and then send it to them. Too many of us are asking them for something. A collaboration is most of the time more beneficial for us than for them. They see us as replaceable. We need to make them see we are not. We have to stand out from the crowd.
What I did was purchase products from brands I wanted to collaborate with. Then I wrote a good, deep, thought-out review of the product and posted it on my site. Then, I sent the review to them and told them I loved their product and that I'd love to collaborate further.
Now their product is getting exposure through my site. Now, when I ask them for a collab, I have already provided a service for them. This strategy gets clients from multiple brands within my niche. This has helped to get long-term job opportunities, links back to my site, and grow my site overall.
Join Freelancing Groups and Use Platforms
I joined freelancing groups on Facebook and Telegram several months ago, and I can vouch that this is one of the best ways freelancers can network with clients and others. I have collaborated with other freelancers on a few projects in the last few months. Plus, I have connected with new clients and secured new projects.
I have also used the Upwork Connects feature to collaborate with new clients. This feature has helped to expand my professional connections. This feature has helped me connect with 70 new clients in the last two months and secure 5 new projects, which is a great start. Yes, I had to invest money, but the premium version is way better than the basic plan. The ROI is good.
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