When done right, using social media can help advance your freelance career. We’re still getting used to networking with potential clients on Twitter instead of posting pictures of our lunch, but whether we like it or not, these channels offer legitimate opportunities.
There is a common misconception about who the people to connect with are. We covet the attention of high-profile industry leaders when our clients could be the followers we never bothered interacting with. This attitude not only limits the scope of opportunities, but it also adds a negative connotation to the word “networking”. In truth, we should look to build a relationship with everyone – as long as they can contribute to your growth and you can support theirs as well.
My experiences so far have turned me into a huge digital networking advocate. I was able to publish a story on one of my favorite publications from Twitter, attend several networking events that led to freelance opportunities from LinkedIn, build a portfolio and attract new leads from Facebook and Instagram. Each platform has a unique appeal.
Here’s how I grew my client base and landed new freelance opportunities through social media:
I started publishing on LinkedIn
Writing on LinkedIn has changed my freelance career. Soon after creating my profile, I started sharing my thoughts and observations on the platform. My posts eventually gained some traction as many of them were featured on different Pulse columns. My most viral post to date has had over 40,000 readers and my following grew to 1,523 people in less than a year.
This micro popularity drew a lot of attention to my writing skills. I started writing for two websites after vetting all my messages. I still get offers from people who took interest in my talent. Publishing on LinkedIn has increased my visibility. With a whooping 467 million users – a large portion of which being recruiters, it put me directly in touch with potential clients and connections.
I joined Facebook groups
If you need help with anything, Facebook groups are here for you. These highly specialized communities provide a supportive network of like-minded individuals to connect with. The best part is that there is one for all niches – freelancers, entrepreneurs, female business owners, young professionals etc. There is no better way to geek out than with people with the same interests as you.
I once landed a writing gig from an announcement a group administrator made. A startup company was looking for bloggers to contribute to their website and I reached out directly to them on the email she shared on the post. I was then interviewed and selected from the many people who responded to the ad. This goes to show how effective these groups are. When they don’t directly lead to freelance opportunities, they open access to knowledge, support and connections.
I added value through my content on Twitter
My favorite thing to do is sharing interesting articles on Twitter. By interesting I mean thought-provoking or pieces that have a practical value. I got into the habit of doing that at least twice a week. More often than not, it gets lost in the sea of content on any given Twitter feed, but when people take notice and interact with your post, they tend to take it a step further and follow you.
I connected with many other bloggers that way. We built a consistent relationship sharing and interacting with each other’s content. One of them invited me to take part of a Twitter chat where I met an entrepreneur who needed help growing their social media following. We are still working together to this date and this goes to show how seemingly innocuous events can have an impact on your career.
If I didn’t bring value through my content, no one would care about my profile. It allowed me to build authority and show my credibility to prospective employers.
I showcased my talent on Instagram
People say Instagram and YouTube are your portfolio these days. This is true in many cases. I’ve come across several job applications that required links to these social media profiles. Anyone with an eye for compelling visuals and storytelling will be successful on Instagram. It then comes as no surprise that photographers and video producers are very popular on the platform.
Two years ago, my sister and I decided to start sharing our fashion style through videos on YouTube. Originally a hobby, this side project quickly grew into a fashion and lifestyle brand. I never imagined I’d gain so many skills from video blogging on YouTube and marketing on Instagram. They include photography, social media marketing, video editing and copywriting. People reached out to us from seeing the work on our Instagram page. As a result, I’ve worked with two female business owners helping them with their social media content creation and management.
I sent warm outreach emails
Sometimes, you simply cannot wait for an introduction. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people directly and sell yourself. A warm outreach email might do the trick. People are so used to cold pitches that you really should do the work of personalizing your message. Research common grounds, determine how you can help them and be straightforward. You’re more likely to get a positive response that way.
I connected with a few people at one of my dream companies that way. I researched the employees on LinkedIn, identified people of interest and sent them a highly customized outreach email. Out of 10 messages, about 50% of people got back to me and I developed a genuine relationship with 2 of them. It’s never about the quantity, but the quality of the connections you nurture.
Start Your Digital Networking Efforts Today
Digital networking is still a new concept, but it has some real applications in our physical world. A connection made on Twitter can lead to a writing gig, a bigger network or a wealth of information. Do not take social media platforms lightly. Be sure to stay true to you and infuse your personality in every content you share, but offer value where you can and remain open to opportunities. Your freelance career will thank you later.
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.