Networking Mistakes

I’m a fan of CNNMoney’s “Ask Annie” column, which generally contains solid advice for job seekers or people trying to survive corporate life, but often has insights applicable to freelancers. Annie’s most recent article, “6 networking mistakes job hunters make,” offers some great tips for when you’re looking for freelance jobs through networking channels. It’s worth reading the whole thing, but here’s a quick look at the highlights.

  • First, she takes to task the idea of asking “do you know of anything?” It’s non-specific and just comes across as lazy and, even worse, desperate. Make sure you’re putting targeted ideas into peoples’ heads in order that they can help you more easily and accurately, and that they can see you’ve done your homework.
  • Neglecting to reconnect with people you haven’t seen or spoken to in a while. This is a tried-and-true strategy for referral-focused freelancers. Last week I met with an old contact to meet for lunch and we had a great time swapping travel tales and childrearing travails, and it turns out he’s got a contact at a national magazine that might be a good fit for me. The point is, don’t feel like you’re “imposing” if it’s someone you have/had a good relationship with. In fact, he felt guilty about not having contacted me first–and he picked up the tab!
  • Relying too much on social networking—again, this comes across as lazy and probably fruitless. If you want the best freelance gigs, you need to reach out with your stellar personality (it is stellar, right?) in a more personal way.

Just like sales and marketing, networking doesn’t have to be cheesy, sleazy, or artificial. But you do have to make a concerted, strategic effort…or you’re likely wasting what little time and energy you put into it.

Contributing writer Jake Poinier blogs regularly as Dr. Freelance and runs an Phoenix-based editorial services firm, Boomvang Creative Group.