When you’re a freelancer, your life is built on the hustle and thinking outside of the box. This means you’re always looking to increase your network (which makes attending business conferences or events in your niche super important). So, let’s give you some professional networking tips and effective networking strategies that you can use at your next meeting or conference to open doors for more freelance work.
This list is one of your best ways to network for a job during a conference or event (and is even a great way to learn how to network when you hate networking)!
How To Use Networking Tips To Maximize Your Conference Connections For Freelance Work
You’ve attended a conference and met some amazing people.
Your motivation level is turned up to 11 and you’re ready to bust out some moves and get your freelance writing, blog, or business to the next level.
And then . . . you get home.
You have a list of TO DOs on your handy notes app, but you need some down time.
(You deserve it, after all.)
But, life happens.
And, before you know it, a month or two has gone by and you’ve done very little with all those conference connections you made.
(All those amazing connections! POOF! GONE! Just like that. Sucks, right?)
Don’t let that happen (or, you might as well set a stack of money on fire!).
The best thing that you can do is to follow-up with those connections immediately when you get home from an event (or from your hotel room in the evening or even the airport).
Look, we know you’re tired but get over it. This is for your freelance business!
And, in freelancing, good connections are like currency (think: money in your pocket).
So, what networking tips will help you get the most ROI for your freelancing biz?
10 NETWORKING TIPS TO OPTIMIZE YOUR CONFERENCE CONNECTIONS
Best Ways To Network for a Job in Freelancing
BEFORE THE CONFERENCE:
Conference Networking Tip #1. Get involved in the conference’s social community.
OK. This one starts even before the conference or meet-up.
(Yes, you have to start working early. Sorry. This is the hustle.)
If there’s a social page (Facebook, Instagram, etc.), follow it and become active on there. Ask questions. Answer questions. Follow those who are following the event page/account.
But, BE AUTHENTIC.
Just posting for the sake of posting is annoying (and people will see right through it).
If the conference has a local IRL group/community, get involved! If someone says, “Anyone want to get coffee before the conference?” SAY YES. Or, ask if anyone wants to meet up prior to the actual conference.
The more you connect, the larger the chance that people will hire you or refer you for work!
One referral from someone I used to work with led to 17 years of a freelancing career and working for myself!
Never underestimate the importance of your connections!
DURING THE CONFERENCE:
Conference Networking Tip #2: Don’t Push Your Freelance Services . . . Yet
There’s nothing worse than someone who knows you for five minutes and they’re shoving a business card in your face or trying to sell you something (including their services).
So, get to know people a little before you start pushing your freelancing.
Understand what they do.
Learn their needs.
Only after you’ve done that and spent some time getting acquainted, then you can exchange contact information and talk about yourself.
Conference Networking Tip #3: Don’t Just Look To Connect With People Who Will Hire You
Remember, a big portion of freelancing is word-of-mouth marketing.
If someone isn’t in your niche, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t network with them. Most people have a lot of other people in their circle and who knows when “Hey! My brother is looking for a writer who . . . ” will come into play.
So, if you really enjoy connecting with someone, ask them if they want to get a drink. Or coffee. Or meet for breakfast the next morning before conference sessions.
The goal is always to develop meaningful connections (and not just fill up your connections book).
Conference Networking Tip #4: Share About The Conference On Social Media
When you’re attending a conference or event, share about it and tag the conference account and use the conference hashtag.
Start before the event and tell everyone why you’re excited to go. Share which speakers you’re excited to see and why (and tag them!).
Share pictures and quotes during the sessions and tag the speaker and the event account.
Tag people you meet and share something funny or interesting about them.
If you’re a conference cheerleader, the creators, sponsors, and speakers will definitely remember you and will probably follow you back (which means they’ll see whenever you share about your services!).
Do a recap after the conference. (Be sure to tag! tag! tag!)
AFTER THE CONFERENCE:
Conference Networking Tip #5: Send Personal Emails/Messages ASAP To The Connections You Made
You need to send emails to your contacts or reach out privately on social media as soon as you can after the conference.
One month is too late. Heck, in this day and age, one week is too late. Try to shoot for the Monday or Tuesday after the conference (or a couple of days after the conference ends).
Things move F A S T now and you need to put yourself at the forefront in order to be remembered and increase your chances of getting hired.
When I meet someone at an event, I always make notes on my notes app or on their business cards immediately after.
It might be something funny (we laughed about those cat memes) or it could be something business-related that we talked about (both knew Tracy from the XYZ company).
No matter, it is something that will help trigger my memory of the person about our conversation.
Then, I include that trigger in the email that I send them to help them remember me.
For example, “I can’t believe we both know Tracy! Say hi to her when you see her at the next meeting!”
TIP: If you still get business cards, stick to matte business cards and not glossy. If people can’t write on your business cards then they can’t write notes about your meeting!
Conference Networking Tip #6: Follow The Speakers And Attendees You Connected With At The Conference
There’s a reason that the speakers (and attendees) provide their contact information and social media accounts, so connect with them by following them on their accounts.
Tell them what you appreciated.
Tweet or Instagram a great quote from them and tag them.
Follow their Facebook page and LinkedIn account and leave a review or comment about their presentation.
And, also be sure to follow the other people you exchanged information with and say “HI” to them (and remind them when you met).
REMEMBER, the more genuine connections you make, the increased chances of someone remembering you when they have a freelance job in your area of expertise.
Conference Networking Tip #7: Endorse Conference Speakers On LinkedIn (or Facebook)
If you loved a speaker at a conference, endorse him or her on LinkedIn—and be sure to put more than “She was a great speaker!”
Be specific about why it was a great presentation and how it helped you.
You’ll not only increase their chances of getting another gig, you’ll also increase your chances of being remembered.
Also, your review shows up on a that speaker’s page, where other businesses can view your LinkedIn profile (or Facebook page).
If you give a speaker an authentic glowing review, she’s going to remember you.
Trust me on that.
Conference Networking Tip #8: Write A Post Or Article About A Conference Speaker’s Session
Connecting with the conference creators/speakers is one of the best things you can do for your networking.
These are generally movers and shakers who have a vast network of connections.
To get on their radar, write a post or article and link back to the conference site.
Tell the conference creators about it!
Conference Networking Tip #9: Interview A Speaker Or Attendee For Your Site
Did a speaker or attendee you met have information that would be a great fit for your blog or website?
It’s a way to connect them on a different level and you’ll definitely get to know them personally.
(Not to mention, they’ll share on their social networks about the interview!)
So, if you have a professional blog, website, podcast, or YouTube channel that fits a speaker’s niche, reach out to them.
Conference Networking Tip #10: Thank The Conference Sponsors
Conference sponsors connect with a specific conference because of their audience and attendees.
That means most of them are open to creating a relationship and opening a dialogue with people in that specific audience.
Genuinely supporting them and talking about them online can create opportunities for you!
What has worked best for you in post-conference networking? Share them in the comments so we can add them to the networking tips here!