Lately, I’ve noticed that there’s some bad social media advice about freelancer networking being given. The advice goes like this–you shouldn’t connect with other freelancers through social media. Instead, you should only connect with those companies that can hire you right away.
However, if you’re not including other freelancers in your social media contacts, I think that you’re making a serious mistake.
While I understand the sentiment behind the advice, I don’t think it’s based on sound reasoning. The thinking is that if you are using social media as a marketing tool, then you need to target your prospective clients only. Those who share this advice think that other connections won’t lead to paying work.
My own experience differs. My connections with other freelancers do lead to paying opportunities. Here’s why.
Freelancers Get Bigger
Many entrepreneurs start out small. They may be a one-person operation today, but what will they be tomorrow?
You don’t know for sure, and neither do I.
Today’s solo professional could be the founder of the next big corporation in five years, or he or she could go out of business entirely in the next year. No one knows what the future holds.
It’s much more practical to be friendly and kind to everyone who contacts you through social media than to try and predict each contact’s future.
Freelancers Move On
Even freelancers who quit freelancing can make good contacts for freelance writers.
Think about it. If they quit freelancing, where do they go? Most likely, they will go back to a traditional job in a company.
It never hurts to have an inside contact in a company. If you were on good terms with someone through social media when they were freelancing, you can continue that relationship when they become an employee.
Freelancing Skills Can Complement Each Other
There are many different types of freelancers with many different types of skills. As a writer, you have a skill that those in other freelancing fields don’t have.
Yet, sometimes a non-writing freelancer will connect with a client who wants writing along with whatever their specialty is. When that day comes, who will they turn to for help with the writing tasks? Not you if you never bothered to connect with them.
This is such an important point that I devoted an entire post to it over at DesignM.ag.
Freelancers Refer Work
Finally, the feast and famine cycle can work in your favor. If another freelancer hits the feast part of the cycle and needs someone to handle their overflow work, you are in a good position to be considered for that work if you are on good terms with that freelancer.
Also, freelancers refer work that they don’t take to other freelancers who they trust. If you’ve made enough freelancer connections, you may find yourself with more work than you can handle.
Even as I write this post, I’m working on a proposal for another freelancer–someone who I met about a year ago through social media. In fact, much of my work comes from such contacts.
In fact, when I became involved with social media one of the first things I did was seek out and connect with other freelancers.
Now, I have to put a cautionary note in here. I never form a social media relationship based solely on the expectation of getting work. Nor do I lead off a relationship by asking a brand-new contact for a gig (as someone did to me today).
Social media relationships are a lot like face-to-face relationships. If you wouldn’t do it in person, you shouldn’t do it in social media.
And remember, there are many benefits besides finding work to having a social media friendship with another freelancer.
What about you? Have your relationships with other freelancers helped your freelance writing business?