HOW TO BUILD A LOCAL NETWORK

Where do freelancers find work? Online jobs boards are a great source as is building up a solid network of potential clients and contacts. When there's an App for everything and an overreliance on tech, it's easy to overlook the opportunities that are on your doorstep. Building up an active local network of fellow freelancers and potential clients enables you to tap into a community who can help you find work, recommend you to others, be there for those all-important slow-day-coffees and add to your client list. But how does one find the right people to surround themselves with?


 
Online

Kicking off the well-known platforms, start on Twitter, follow local businesses and start having a look at how they Tweet, the sort of things they focus on and who they target their posts at. Be a positive Tweeter, no one will want to meet you in person if they think you’re a grump on social media. Twitter has a List feature that very few people use. It enables you to add Twitter accounts to a list and group people with something in common, in this case, your local network. Call it something fun and complimentary such as 'Hackney Heroes' or 'Castlefield Community'. When you add a local shop, freelancer or potential client, they will get notified. It shows leadership and initiative

You can do something similar on Facebook by starting a local group. The advantage on Facebook is that it's more conducive for a chat. Send locals an invite to join and set a few questions at the point of entry such as 'Tell the group about yourself or your business.' 

LinkedIn is a good place for businesses and their location search is pretty good too. 
 

Now that the big-hitting social media channels are buzzing with life, let's tap up some of the lesser-known apps to build your network. Dating App 'Bumble' has a Bumble for Business feature that enables you to network with others in the same way as you would find a date. The App 'Shapr' is designed for networking and, just like the dating app system, enables you to swipe through matches every day. 

 Network with local freelancers

Offline

Those brave enough to step outside and approach your local community will reap the rewards. Drop into local businesses and say hi. Ideally, you want to speak with the owners. Don't go in dressed like a salesperson with a pitch at hand, rather, ask them about their business, say you're local and mention what you do. After hitting up your neighbourhood, make sure to add them to whichever digital group you've set up so that you can open a line of communication.

Another idea to really break into the local community is to hold your own event. Hosting in a local pub, a cafe or your living room, it's a great way to really get to know like-minded people who clearly have the same interests as you. If playing the host is not really your thing, make sure you attend as many networking events, conferences, and exhibitions as possible. It is an amazing opportunity to build out your community. We know networking is not for everyone but they're not like they were 10 years ago. There are breakfast clubs, events with fascinating speakers, or evening sessions with drinks. Generally, a good networking event will make it really easy for people to connect. 
 
Always play nice with other creatives, say positive things about their work and recommend other people in your network for jobs, you might find that they do the same in return. Being nice costs nothing and it really does get you everywhere.

To completely win over the local community, start visiting schools, give talks about your experiences and maybe even become a mentor. Parents will love you for helping their kids, teachers will praise you for giving back, and the community will respect you.
 
Thinking of expanding your business? Joining a co-working space can be a great way to get out of that working from home funk and start meeting people. You never know, you could meet potential clients or business associates. Building up a great local network is never easy but with a little bit of time, effort and perseverance you can break in in no time, and if you ever need any help or advice, we’re only a message away! 

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