One of the things that I hear from other freelancers is how hard networking is. And it seems that writers are even more prone to this idea. In fact, I used to think the same thing. I hated the idea of getting out and meeting new people. The idea of having to tell people about what I did, and why they might want to part with some of their hard earned dollars, or asking other freelancers if they knew of potential clients? Forget about it. It was the last thing I wanted to do.
So, what changed? This week, I have two evenings devoted to networking and I am looking forward to both of them. I really noticed the change after an event I attended a few weeks ago. I have to say, a big part of my enjoyment comes from the events I’m attending. I have been doing this long enough that I know a great group of people, though this isn’t necessary for good networking. Through those connections, I have found events that are fun and productive. Which is exactly what you want.
Here are a five tips that may help you enjoy networking events:
Go with a good friend or colleague the first time or two.
That way, if you start to feel lost or overwhelmed you will have a familiar face to talk to. Your friend might even do the talking and introduce you to great people!
Take business cards!
I cannot stress this enough and I am notorious for going to events without cards. Amazing opportunities can, and will happen. Make sure people have a way to contact you. I’m going to put more in my bag right now. Really.
Take a notebook and write down ideas that pop up as you network.
A conversation could be a great jumping off point for a new project. You can also write down your impressions of other people and your ideas about future collaboration.
Go to events that sound interesting to you.
This is really important. I started going to the PDX WIIT (Women in Information Technology) events last summer and they are a blast! I have mentioned them to some of my other writer friends and got, “Meh.” back. That’s totally okay. More geeky tech events for me. Point: Find information you love.
Try to have fun.
I know this is a cheesy one, but if you go with the idea that the event is going to suck…it probably will. Even if you can’t have fun, remind yourself that this is a great way to connect with like-minded people, and could land you a job. It’s hard to go wrong with either of those.
You all might be wondering what networking events I go to on a regular basis that are so cool. I have another list for you. What can I say? I’m a technical writer.
My professional writing group, the Copywriter Conclave of Portland, has a monthly meeting and happy hour. You can email membership@
portlandcopywriters.com for time and location. (We’re hosting a Resume Design for Non-Designers workshop on April 23rd, by the way. You should come!)
The Freelancers Union hosts a happy hour every month at the Green Dragon. This is a super fun, really great for networking, positive event. By the time this posts, April’s event will have passed, but I look forward to seeing you all in May.
The Freelancers Union also hosts workshops on a monthly basis. Check out their calendar for more information.
PDX WIIT has events regularly. I recommend following them on Twitter or LinkedIn for specific events.
And, finally, a quick Google search of Portland Freelance Mixers/Events will lead you to many more, literally, like four million more.
I hope this will help ease some of the stress that can come along with thinking about putting yourself out there. And I hope to see many more people at future events.