No one can deny that the world has turned to digital. The internet is changing the way we get our news, shop, meet people and even do business. Social media is a major contributor to this shift. Whether we use it to stay in touch with family and friends or laugh at memes and funny videos, it has become an important part of our daily lives.
From facilitating the recruitment of talented candidates to helping freelancers land new clients and score freelance work, social media is increasingly connected to our physical world. To a lot of people, using it to advance their freelance career is still a new concept. It’s hard to go from tweeting about our random thoughts to pitching our services to prospective clients. Nonetheless, social media channels are legitimate avenues of professional growth.
A strong social media presence is the first step to increasing your online visibility and building valuable relationships.
Pick a Platform – Begin by identifying which platforms will put you in direct contact with your people of interest. LinkedIn and Twitter are a great place to start. Upload a high-quality photo and craft a bio that shows your personality and gives people a clear indication of what you do. Optimize your profile on each platform to make it easier for people to find you. For example, make your Twitter public and put in the time to complete your LinkedIn page.
Post consistently – It’s not uncommon for people to abandon their LinkedIn or professional Twitter profile after creating it. They think it’s enough to just set it up like the opportunities will magically show up. You’ll have to work hard to attract the right people. It starts with constantly updating your profile. Let people know if you’ve made a career transition or if you have new interests. The more you post, the more people you will be able to reach. Don’t let your profiles disappear into the sea of online content. Be consistent.
Add value – It’s one thing to post consistently and another to know what to post. The pressure to stay relevant can easily mislead people into posting anything. You want to make sure your reader gets value out of the things you post. These can be inspirational quotes or interviews, news updates or articles that solve a specific problem.
As a freelance writer who blogs about all things social media and career development, I usually share anything that’s relevant to my niche. Valuable content brings attention to your brand and invite readers to not just interact with your posts, but engage with you as well.
Promote your work – As a freelancer, your social media profiles are like your resume. By promoting your work, you indirectly pitch your services to potential clients. Post about projects you’ve completed in the past, work you’re interested in doing next or any other elements of your portfolio. That way, people can evaluate your expertise and figure out how you can help them. Don’t overdo it though because you can quickly turn into the spammy salesman everyone wants to avoid. Mix it up with other content.
There isn’t one way to acquire new clients on social media. However, it requires a proactive attitude and a strategic plan of action.
Connect with as many people as possible – They key to score freelance work is to have a meaningful network. The more people you have, the higher your chances are. Beware of sending cold invitations. People on LinkedIn are wearied by this distant approach. I usually add people after meeting them at a networking event or being introduced by a mutual connection. This almost always guarantees a positive response.
Reach out – Sometimes, a direct approach is the way to go. You don’t get what you don’t ask for, so don’t hesitate to reach out to strangers. First, identify the people and companies you’d like to connect with then do your research. I once
landed the opportunity to collaborate with a major blogger I met on Twitter. I reached out to her saying:
Thanks for responding to me on Twitter! I love your blog and I noticed we write about a similar topic, although you focus on twenty-somethings while my audience extends to all multi-passionate millennials.
I wanted to reach out and formally introduce myself. My name is Shelcy and I blog for multi-passionate millennials who want to make a career out of their interests. After graduating college, I was very frustrated with the career options I was told I could have and have since then decided to creatively carve my own path. This is mainly why I started my blog: http://amillennialsguidetolife.com/
I’d love to know more about what inspired you to start blogging and what keeps you going! Since we both love helping people live a passionate life, I think there are ways in which we can collaborate. I’d love to further discuss the possibilities if you’re interested. Let me know if you have a moment sometime in the next 2-3 weeks.
Nothing beats a warm outreach email. All it takes is a bit of strategy. You can either leverage some common ground (maybe you share similar interests) or determine your value proposition (what you can offer them) and articulate that in your message.
Build meaningful relationships – A common misconception is that networking is a one-way street. In reality, it’s a two-sided relationship that relies on what each person brings to the table. If you want to maintain a long-term connection with someone or a company, start by interacting with them online. Repost what they share and provide constructive criticism. They will take notice and start responding. You can then connect with them on other platforms and invite them to meet in real life. If they say they’re interested in coding, follow-up with a list of free tech resources. Don’t think you have nothing to offer just because they have more experience than you. You can both support each other.
Treat it like a job – Just like you have deadlines at work, set a time frame for each of your social media goals. Take your online presence seriously. I once set a goal to successfully pitch a story to one of my favorite digital publications. I was already familiar with their website so I began by following them everywhere. I then decided to interact with their content (either by liking, retweeting or commenting) at least twice a week. I featured one of their articles on my blog and shared the link with them. Since I had been actively working on the relationship, they noticed and even followed me back on Twitter. When I took the leap and pitched them my story, I made sure to reference our prior history. That resulted in them publishing my story. I’m sure more went into their acceptance of my pitch (mainly, the pitch itself), but it’s not wrong to think our relationship contributed to that too.
With social media networking as with everything else, hard work pays off. Treat advancing your freelance career like a job. You simply cannot ignore social media for your professional goals. Prioritize strengthening your digital presence and you will create opportunities for yourself.
Shelcy Joseph is a freelance writer and the voice behind A Millennial’s Guide to Life, a career and lifestyle destination for multi-passionate creatives. When she’s not typing away on her laptop, she loves to explore the city, try out new restaurants, capture moments with her camera and meeting new people. Get her FREE guide to effective time management on her site.