Soloprenuers — sole proprietors, independent contractors, freelancers, single-member LLC owners — work by themselves. They are solely responsible for finding clients and building their community.
This is often done most successfully through networking. Building a community through networking has many benefits:
- Leads to more referrals. Referrals and recommendations are a significant advantage in client pitches, especially for solopreneurs. Having a strong network of people who are familiar with your work is a great way to solicit endorsements that you are trustworthy and dependable.
- Leads to new clients. With networking, you’re building awareness around your business. Even though some of your networking leads won’t need your services right away, you have top-of-mind awareness advantage when they do. Continue to nurture those leads, keeping in touch and checking in when appropriate.
- Opportunities for mentorship. You’ve been in this position before — just starting out as an entrepreneur and looking for advice and direction. Networking can give you the opportunity to mentor others. You might learn a thing or two yourself.
- Builds a credible presence. Having a strong reputation in your industry always helps retain clients over time. Creating that professional network, and consistently communicating and attending events (if applicable), will help you build your audience and set a strong presence.
- Grows your skills and knowledge base. Growing your talents is just another way to grow your freelance business. Networking can help you learn about the concerns, motives and interests of your target audience, and help you keep up with industry trends.
Now that you know the benefits to networking, how do you go about finding this community, both online and offline?
Here are some networking tips for business owners and solopreneurs:
Attend Workshops, Conferences or Seminars
These types of events allow you to have conversations with other participants and like-minded individuals in your industry. Attending seminars, workshops, conferences, activities, panels and more can connect you with others in your industry and provide easy topics of conversation.
Ask for an Introduction
Have you been perusing your LinkedIn account? Or do you know of someone in the industry or your community that you’d like to connect with? Ask a mutual contact for an introduction and a chance to connect.
Join a Club or Association
There are various clubs and organizations centered around almost anything you can think of. Do a little research and see what the most recent events are. Try one out, and if you like it, considering joining. Also check out Meetup, a platform that can help you easily find networking events in your area.
Join the Board of a Nonprofit
This one takes a little more work and effort, but it’s a great way to meet people. Board members are often responsible for recruiting new supporters, which would give you a chance to connect with new people and also support a cause you believe in.
You can meet new people who share your passion, all while helping the community. Think of any local businesses or nonprofits that may need your help.
Use Social Media
This is probably one of the easiest ways to network. Platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter make it easier for professionals and businesses to connect. Jump into a group discussion and offer insights, or contribute to the conversation and help set your presence. When a prospect is in need, they may remember you and connect. Some additional considerations when using social media:
- Make sure all of your profiles are up to date with the most current information about you, your business and your work.
- Have you checked your links lately? Make sure all links are working to not deter someone from reaching out.
- Is your contact information easily accessible?
- Utilize relevant hashtags to become more discoverable.
- Post consistently.
- Respond to those who have reached out, viewed your LinkedIn profile, etc.
Networking is an important way for solopreneurs to not only grow their business and brand awareness, but also find additional resources and support. While these tips will help you build your business, remember it’s about building relationships first, then easing into the sell.
Looking for more advice? Check out Incfile’s blog for more topics related to networking, marketing and entrepreneurship. Good luck!