Networking is a fundamental life skill. It’s what lands you dream clients, wins you pay rises, and fosters your future success. But it can be a daunting experience for us new graduates and, let’s admit it, can end up being something we actively avoid rather than throw ourselves into. It’s important to remember that, like any other skill, networking is something you can practise and get better at. Unlike full-time employees, freelancers rely on networking to win work, so kicking off your freelance career will mean stepping up your networking game for good.
Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted networking online, you’ll need to know where to look for your first clients. I won some brilliant first clients through global freelancing platform Upwork which, along with similar sites like Fivver and PeoplePerHour, can be a great way for graduates to dip their toes into self-employment. But use these platforms with caution. As well as taking hefty fees, some jobs on these sites advertise shamefully low rates. You shouldn’t feel as though you have to join a race to the bottom. Seek out clients that will value your skill set.
You can also use the network and resources you already have to find clients. What about reaching out to your University’s Alumni network or career service, which may be available for several years after graduation?
Fellow freelancers are always looking for an extra pair of hands to help out on a big project, whip up a website, or keep tabs on their accounts. In fact, one of my favourite projects was crafting copy for another freelancer’s AI website. What’s more, it could be a great way to glean insight from people who are more experienced than you.