By Novelist, Trainer and Journalist, Sue Walker
Networks, chance meetings and speculative approaches
Who do you know?
Yes, working in the creative industries is indeed about having, talent, skill and great ideas but that old adage of who you know is as true now as it’s ever been.
It's a freelance’s bounden duty to themselves (if they want to keep working) to forever look after their networks and contacts: cherish existing ones and create new ones.
This may seem (and is) common sense but a significant amount of us find this a challenge, especially if there have been a lot of knock-backs and struggles to keep in work.
The notion of ‘using ‘ contacts can be uncomfortable for some but successful freelances know that they need to keep each and every avenue to work open.
So, it’s wise to make a point of reviewing your existing contacts on a regular basis. An email, or invite for coffee, does no harm and can do you a deal of good. If there’s no response, then leave it for a bit and try again. Chances are, you are not being rejected – your contact may be busy with work and personal life. Persistence (without nuisance) is usually required.
Opening new territory - who do you want to know and who do you want to know you?
There’s no doubt that making your mark online and via social media to sell your wares is the way forward but it’s not the only way and, it may have an unforeseen downside if not kept under control.
Employers/clients and those who can give you work, still want to judge you in person. And they are far more likely to trust you to do the job, when they’ve met you face-to-face.
To make this happen you need to drag yourself away from your screen and email and get out there! Don’t be scared to meet up with people who may have work for you even if you’re a bit rusty at such encounters. Here’s a handful of things to try:
Assuming you’re already networking online - if you are part of a virtual group anywhere, see if there is any interest in meeting up – try to find a reason for this such as a new idea that you would like to tell them about or to discuss some news that might be beneficial to them.
Find appropriate events to attend
Make sure you know how to introduce yourself, what you do and what you can do, succinctly and compellingly, in just a few seconds – finesse that so-called ‘elevator pitch’
Always be prepared, e.g., if you live round the corner from a great contact, you might just want to ‘bump into’ them from time to time and strike up some chat. Put yourself on their radar (though preferably not if they’re out shopping with two screaming children or a grumpy–looking grandparent!). Judge the moment.
Whenever you get the chance, talk with passion and enthusiasm about what you do. At many busy events you never know who might be listening.
Put yourself in any potential client’s/contact’s shoes before you approach – always ask - what can you do for them?
Your weapons of choice
As well as refining how you present yourself at organized events or more random moments, it is crucial to have something to offer – like a business card (still useful in many circumstances) and even a CV or résumé, if you’re attending a networking and pitching session.
There are often influential guest speakers there who you might get a chance to mingle with after and you may just be able to slip them your card/CV with a smile and a few well-chosen words to remind them of you later.
The most effective weapon is your enthusiasm and the ability to always present what you have to offer in the most interesting way. Be bold. Make it all about you!
And, finally, to quote another adage – fortune favours the brave.....
Want to learn more?
FEU Training is running a number of CV development and presentation workshops around the country this autumn. If you would like to attend, look out for updates for workshops coming to your region or register your interest at email@example.com (if we have sufficient demand, we’ll come to you).