At this point in my business, I don’t spend a whole lot of time on free job boards to find writing gigs. In fact, while looking at my current client roster I realized that I’ve managed to network my way into most of my writing gigs.

I get that everyone touts around “networking” as a way to build your business. I also understand that several people aren’t very successful with it. However, with these keys to networking it wil become less awkward and more effective.

Be Warm and Open

One of the keys to networking is to actually try to enjoy it. People want to work with people who are open to it. If you are standing by the wall with your arms crossed it’s unlikely that someone will offer you some work.

Some people assume that being warm and open is something they need to force if it doesn’t come naturally to them. This is not the case and can end up backfiring.

Being warm and open can be as simple as invoking what Susan Cain calls the power of one. This is the act of connecting with just one person while networking. It’s more effective to make one powerful connection than several mediocre ones.

Being warm and open is also a simple as being yourself. I got a new client hanging out at a party once. I wasn’t even looking for a client, I was just making conversation.

Go to The Right Events

Not all networking events are created equal. This is something we all eventually learn the hard way. The reality is there are a lot of networking events or professional organizations that are a complete waste of time and money.

That’s why it’s important to network smarter not harder. Networking smarter looks like going to events where your potential clients actually hang out. In fact, if you only remember one of these keys to networking with you let it be this one.

I often times use the example of network marketers to illustrate this point. Depending on which network marketing company you are a part of, there is some huge conference every year. This would not be a conference for you to pick up clients because it’s an event full of people who do the same thing you do. No one at that event needs your service or product.

Granted, some conferences are a bit of a hybrid between education and finding clients. One such conference is The Financial Blogger Conference which is great for both writers looking for work and companies looking to hire writers.

The key is to find the right events and organizations and invest your time and money in those. It may take a little trial and error, but eventually you’ll know a good event when you see one.

Give Referrals, Get Referrals

One thing I’ve noticed in my business as of late is that I’m getting a lot of client work thanks to referrals from other financial writers. Many of these are writers I have referred myself for other projects that I may not have been a good fit for. Many of these writers are also people I now consider friends.

Many people assume that in the world of freelance “other writers” are your competition. The reality is they are the best possible people to have on your side. First, because you can stand together against some sort of injustice like you see with The Freelancers Union. Second, because freelancers are actually quite collaborative.

If you want to make it in freelance you must get over any mindset you have when it comes to other people being your competition. Instead find ways to work together so you can both make some money.

Final Thoughts

You can network your way into writing gigs and our new collaborative economy makes it easier than ever to do so. Simply remain open, be strategic about which events you go to and release any competition mindset you may be holding on to.

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Amanda Abella is a full-time writer who specializes in online business and finance. She's also an online business coach and the Amazon best-selling author of Make Money Your Honey.

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