10 December 2018 by Tali Ramsey Creative Network 101. While independence is what inspires many freelance creatives to pursue a self-employed career, having a supportive, creative network of fellow like-minded freelancers is essential. However, for freelancers, forming those types of tribes, communities, and connections can be difficult. Welcome to the awkward-free way of networking. A study into the freelance market by marketing and creative recruitment agency Major Players found that freelance creatives needed a community in order to thrive in their work. A survey that questioned 231 freelance creatives on their working conditions, earnings and experiences found that “freelancers need a more frequent supply of work, a community of other freelancers and support to help their careers flourish.” Networking has always been uncomfortable and often very formal. It's something business people do, not creatives! If your experiences of networking events are anything like ours, you'll know the feeling of walking into an event space, doing a few laps of the room, checking your phone and finding it really uncomfortable to interrupt a group who are having a conversation. Networking is not made for everyone! This got us thinking - 'how can we bring people together in a natural way?'. We looked at sites like Meetup.com and Facebook Groups who seemed activity. What if our platform brought together like-minded individuals who could connect from the comfort of their home or from their phone and then get together to collaborate or meet for a coffee? One of the major benefits of our digital landscape is the myriad ways to combat this incessant loneliness and feel supported in your career. While social media has the potential to be a useful way of networking and finding inspiration, it is an extremely broad network and you can easily drown in its vastness. We all know the feeling of something we post getting lost amongst all the other content with zero likes, shares, comments or otherwise. How many of your social media followers have you met offline? Freelancer Club puts a community concept at its core by providing an online creative network for all of those working for themselves in the creative industries. You can let your work do the networking. When you upload new work to the site, not only does it get recognition from others who are directly in your industry but it also reaches the 1000s of brands looking to hire freelancers. So, how exactly can you meet fellow-freelancers on Freelancer Club? Shortlist a bunch of freelancers you'd like to meet. Check out the profiles of other members on the Freelancer directory. Filter down by location and creative field then see whose style you like. Connect with others via their work. The Latest Projects page is a great way to connect with others. Use keywords like 'Gothic', 'Design' or 'Product' to source freelancers who match your interests. Reach out to connect Once you've found someone you'd like to connect with, you've got a bunch of options. The soft approach is to like their work and leave a comment. Try asking a question in the comment section that will normally elicit a response. You can build up a relationship through your interest. Follow the freelancer and get updates on their latest work when they publish new projects. In-Mail to move the conversation private and set up a time to meet for a coffee. If you're keen to collaborate on a project, post a Test Shoot and meet a group of freelancers whilst producing new work together. There's nothing quite like bonding over a creative collaboration. You can also increase your network by leaving and receiving positive feedback and reviews. Here, you can connect, collaborate and build a sense of community. Our members benefit from having a clean, carefully designed and high-quality profile where they can promote themselves and their portfolio. We surveyed 100s of business, employers, and recruitment agencies to ask what they look for when hiring a creative freelancer and ensured that all of this information was included in a concise snapshot on our member's profile page. Our unique platform allows members to upload their portfolio with links to their social media accounts, whilst advertising their skillset next to a brief biography. More advanced members can categorise their work in portfolio galleries, include a day rate or hourly rate, add a link to their main website and even list the services they offer. A proactive member on the website will have five to fourteen thousand views on their portfolio (by people who matter), so the more you give, the more you get back. Freelancer Club also provides various networking and training events, not to be missed. There's a whole host of free events designed to help you market yourself digitally and meet others at free networking events. Remember, it isn’t only about what you know, it’s about who you know, which contributes to the importance of having a community around you and building a sustainable career. Having a sense of community is vital to growing as a freelancer as it gives you the possibility of collaborations, positive referrals and reviews, and most importantly, more work!