It's no secret that business networking is vital to the careers of many successful freelance writers. Networking is simply the act of connecting with colleagues, potential clients, or others in your industry, and those connections have a tendency to lead to freelance writing gigs; including unpublished ones.
How My Network Gets Me Gigs
Personally, I get the majority of my clients (both in writing and in marketing / PR) through referrals. Those referrals most often come from past clients who liked my work, so they spread the word. I also get referrals from colleagues (other writers who receive offers for gigs that they don't specialize in, like press release writing, so they forward my info to the client knowing that it's something I do specialize in).
Why Networking is Important
Building that kind of word of mouth buzz is important. You can get clients through a wide variety of marketing efforts, but why spend the time doing that when others can do the bulk of your marketing for you, leaving you more billable hours to devote to actual clients?
Here are some tips to help you build your professional network as a freelance writer:
- Start a blog. A lot of top notch freelance writers, especially on the Web, now run blogs. Don't just start a blog and assume people will find you though. Comment on related blogs to build some name recognition, respect, and relationships with other writers (or professionals in the niche you focus your writing on).
- Join online writing forums. You'll meet a lot of writers this way from a broad range of niches and styles. You don't have to focus on writers directly competing with you. It's actually better sometimes to network with writers in other areas, because they're the ones who would be more likely to spread the word if they heard about a gig in your niche or specialty. Don't even stick exclusively to writing forums. Find communities dedicated to professionals in your niche areas. For example, if you're a medical writer, join medical communities. If you're a business writer, join business forums. Go to where the potential clients are, especially if the forum allows advertising, and isn't overly saturated with writers yet.
- Share the wealth. The more referrals you send to other writers (like when you're offered a gig not in your specialty, that can't be fit into your schedule, or that you can't take because of a conflict of interests or personal reasons), the more likely it is that they'll eventually return the favor.