The Non-Virtual World of Freelancing: Face-to-Face Networking

networkingIn my last post, I wrote about in-person client meetings and some of the things you need to consider in order to have a successful local meeting. If you are exploring non-virtual business and looking to take more of your work offline, face-to-face networking is a great way to make connections and find new opportunities.

Where to Find Networking Opportunities

We all know there are a lot of places online where you can network and expand your professional connections. There are a lot of places offline you can network as well, although it will take a little more research and exploration to find the best opportunities for you.

Some popular networking opportunities you may want to explore include:

  • Conferences
  • Meetings for professional organizations
  • Community service events
  • Tweetups
  • Local business networking groups

You can also plan and organize your own event. It can be as simple as a one-on-one meeting with someone you’ve met online (be sure to follow the safety guidelines in my previous post). You can also join a group meeting through sites like MeetingWave and Meetup.

Face-to-Face Networking Tips

Just like online networking, you should go into a live networking situation with a clear goal in mind. Are you interested in meeting like-minded colleagues? Are you looking for potential clients? Are you interested in meeting new people and generating new ideas? Why are you there?

Take time to set goals for the event. By focusing on connecting with others and not making automatic sales, you will alleviate some of the pressure these events can hold and make yourself more approachable in the process.

Be prepared with an elevator speech and ready to answer common questions about your business and what you do. You can even practice this ahead of time so you are relaxed and comfortable sharing the information. And don’t forget to bring business cards to hand out to everyone you meet.

Here are some more tips to make your in-person networking experiences as successful as possible.

  • Dress professionally and appropriately.
  • Be willing to approach people and introduce yourself.
  • Shake hands and make eye contact with everyone.
  • Ask open-ended questions and be sure to listen to what others are saying.
  • Avoid staying in one place for the duration of the event; mingle for the biggest impact.
  • Be genuine and honest.
  • Follow up and follow through after the event.

Do you network in person? What tips can you offer to others?

Related posts:

The Non-Virtual World of Freelancing: In-Person Client Meetings

The Power of Follow Up
Why You Need A Powerful Elevator Pitch

Image credit: Manny Proebster

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  • http://www.epiphanygraphics.com epiphanygraphics

    This is a well-written, concise article. I agree with Alyssa in that networking is what you want it to be. Many of my colleagues shudder at the thought of “networking” while other relish and thrive on networking as a means of marketing and business development.

    I feel strongly that networking can be a valuable tool for finding new work, contributing to the positive growth of your brand. Also, it is a great way to meet new friends and pros to collaborate with. This is why I started Indie Arsenal, a networking and collaboration group for independent creatives. I’m a big believer in having online and offline interaction.

  • Chase

    Be careful with the canned answers. You can use the same simple, short explanations but people want individualized attention. They won’t to know how what you do affects the business they are in. Everyone is essentially self-interested so make sure your conversation caters to their needs and interests.

    Although I appreciate where you are trying to go with this, it seems a little profound. You’re giving vey basic social advice for human to human contact.

    Speaking as someone who works in the virtual industry, it scares me to think that we’ve lost touch with how to actually talk to others.

  • http://twitter.com/marcusbowlerhat Marcus Miller

    Erghhh, real networking, like with real people, like in person, no thanks, I can do all of this whilst working in my underpants and still maintain a sheen of professionalism. ;)