Nine Non-Intimidating Tips for Freelance Networking


Networking: a simple word, which, weirdly enough, stresses out a lot of freelancers. Freelance networking can be frustrating but it’s also extremely important. Having the right contacts can open doors that otherwise remain closed, especially to a freelancer. 

Connecting with potential clients and anybody who might be interested in your work can help you call upon those connections when the need arises. The lone wolf aspect of freelancing can make it tough to form those relationships, but it doesn’t have to be as difficult as it sounds. 

What exactly is the secret to proper networking that will help you in your freelance career? Here are nine non-intimidating tips, tricks and suggestions for freelance networking that you can use.

  1. Start small
  2. Don’t leave out fellow freelancers
  3. Contribute to freelancer content
  4. Professional online networks
  5. Go to local events
  6. Always keep a business card in hand
  7. Be genuine
  8. Think about your body language
  9. Follow up
Networking Tips
Networking Tips

1) Start small

Approaching strangers can be a daunting aspect so it’s best to start with the people that you know. Begin slowly with your friends and relatives and then when you’re a little more comfortable with the idea of networking, move on to your alumni network

The people you already know will know other people who’ll know other people and so on. Stick around with the people you know and ask them for an introduction to the people you are looking to meet.

2) Don’t leave out fellow freelancers

A general tip that applies to both online and offline freelance networking is not leaving other freelancers out. As you’re building your network, help out fellow freelancers if you can. Sure, connections with companies and potential big clients might seem more productive and lucrative, but hanging out with the freelancer crowd can prove to be just as effective. 

Think of it as having good, reliable colleagues. If the workload is too much, the project too big or just too difficult, freelancers need others that they can count on. Make yourself to be that other person. By lending a hand, you can then count on them for help later down the line.

You may also consider getting in touch with just two or three freelancers with complementary skills or ones who work in a parallel industry. The idea is that they refer clients to you, and in return you’ll refer clients to them. You can discuss referral fees if it makes sense, but the point is that someone may need you for one part of a project, and need someone else’s skills for the rest.

If you’re an IT freelancer, consider reaching out to the following:

Graphic designers

In front of every technical project, there’s a visual component. Developers, programmers, and UX experts make perfect partners to graphic or web designers. Get to know some freelance designers and see how you can help each other. BONUS: Have a designer you trust that you can recommend every time you start a new project–like an app or website.

Leaders at IT companies

Whether you freelance because you’re in between full-time jobs, or because you prefer to work for yourself, you can still benefit from IT firms. Sometimes they outsource work that would put them over capacity, or that isn’t a fit for their niche. Guess who could be on the receiving end of that work?

IT freelancers with complementary skills

Android dev, meet iOS dev. AngularJS expert, meet MongoDB pro. You speak Python, but your client needs someone who speaks Java. Back-end developers and programmers should get to know business intelligence consultants, site architects and project managers. 

IT freelancers with the same skills as you

You might be thinking: “What? No! We’re competing for the same jobs!” It might seem counter-intuitive, but you should be open to partnering with the competition. Here’s why:

  • If they’re too busy to take on new work, they can refer it to you.
  • If a project or client isn’t a good fit for one person, it might be a better fit for the other.
  • It could result in collaborations on big projects.
  • Referring a client to a ‘competitor’ you trust can show the client you have integrity, and can mean good things for your reputation.
  • If you’re too busy to take on new work, you can refer it to them.
Portfolio Dragos Muntean

3) Contribute to freelancer content

Contributing to online forums, commenting on articles and writing blog pieces can help boost your freelancing career immensely. All you have to do is discuss the very thing your career is built around. 

If people stumble upon your content, they may see you as an expert in your field and may even hire you or recommend you to others. Contributing to articles can also get you in touch with other members in your industry and can increase your visibility as a freelancer.

4) Professional online networks

People often think that professional networks like LinkedIn or Xing are often only used when one is looking for a job. This is an oversimplification. Professional networks like these are one of the best resources available to freelancers for online networking. Keep your profile up to date and include projects you’re working on, but also actively look for people who work on similar things. 

You might also want to consider connecting with people or organizations on Twitter. Engage with the posts they share and when you’re ready, reach out to them directly. 

Professional networks are also a great way to connect with contacts that you’ve lost touch with. Remember, you are a freelancer and that means that you are almost always, either actively or passively, looking for new opportunities. Don’t let them slip by. 

5)  Go to local events 

Support your online freelance networking by an offline networking strategy. With the pandemic still in play, going to local in-person events may be difficult but that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of local virtual ones. If there happen to be in-person events in your area, it might be a good idea to attend a few. 

Your city’s chamber of commerce might host events for people in your industry. Trade shows, social events, masterclasses, career fairs, these are all options you might want to consider.

You can reach an incredible amount of people over the internet, but meeting them in real life is a whole other world that you can be a part of. From small talk to heated discussions – every small conversation can lead to something big. 

Remember though that it’s not all about you. You’ve probably made this mistake (along with millions of others) who feel like their networking efforts are a failure if they’re not selling themselves all the time.

You need to change the way you think about networking. Don’t go with the intention of selling to everyone you meet, instead think of networking as expanding your network. Listen to what others have to say and ask yourself how you can add value to these people. Approaching networking with a giving mindset rather than a receiving one, will make your networking much more effective.

6) Always keep a business card in hand

You may think that business cards are a thing of the past, but that’s not necessarily true. Sure, many of your cards will probably end up lying in a bin or stuck in a wallet never to be looked at again, but it’s a small investment that plays off of people’s forgetfulness. 

A name can be difficult to remember, even if a person makes a stellar impression. A business card with your name, website and field of work will make sure that your first impression not only gets remembered, but is also linked to the information needed for following up with you.

7) Be genuine

Freelance networking isn’t asking people you know for a job. Don’t focus solely on what kind of job your networking efforts are going to land you. Focus instead on presenting yourself in a genuine manner and listening to what others have to say. This leads to much better results.

And remember, never be too pushy with selling yourself. Have a normal conversation with your connections like you would with people you meet at a bar, but instead, let it be about your work. Genuine passion about your work is the most important aspect that potential clients are going to remember when considering you for a job in the future.

8) Think about your body language

Many people only focus on the words they say to others. Think about when you were last at a networking event, you’re probably guilty of this too. We forget that our non verbal actions have a huge impact on how others perceive us. Also, let’s not ignore the fact that networking is awkward. Striking up a conversation with someone you don’t know can be really difficult. Here’s a few simple body language tips to help you improve straight away:

First impressions count, so make sure you give a genuine smile when you meet people (nothing that looks forced and creepy). A warm smile makes you more likable and research shows we remember people that smile at us.

Face the person you’re talking to. When you feel uncomfortable, you might subconsciously point your feet towards the exit or position yourself to be able to walk away easily. Not facing the person you’re talking to shows a lack of respect and it makes you look distracted and closed off.

Think about where you approach others. Trying to strike up a conversation with someone near to the toilets, the exit or where people are getting food is not a good idea. These people are probably looking to eat, use the toilet or leave, and your approach will be holding them up preventing them from listening to what you have to say. The best place to approach people is near the bar just after they’ve got a drink.

9) Follow up

Last but not least, remember to follow up on your connections. Freelance networking is about building relationships so make sure you maintain your network. Always find a reason to keep the relationship going with your connections. 

After all, if you’ve made the effort to meet new people, it would be silly not to put some time aside to follow up with them the next day (or as close to the event as you can manage). This could be as simple as adding them on LinkedIn. 

In addition, sharing articles, sending emails about things relevant to your industry, asking questions on a regular basis or even inviting them to (virtual) events are all great, non-intimidating ways for you to maintain your freelance network. Aim to get in touch a few times a year. 

How do you network? Share your ideas and tips in the comments below! 

Natalia Campana

Natalia is part of the international team at freelancermap. She loves the digital world, social media and meeting different cultures. Before she moved to Germany and joined the freelancermap team she worked in the US, UK and her home country Spain. Now she focuses on helping freelancers and IT professionals to find jobs and clients worldwide at

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