“How can I use social media for my freelancing business? I don’t really know anybody?”
If you’re hesitating about using social media because you feel your social network isn’t very big, think again. You know more people than you realize. And social media is a great way to expand your network.
Yet, one of the biggest complaints people make about using social media for their freelancing business is that they don’t know who to connect with.
In this post, I’ll help you build your social media network. I list 12 people that every freelancer should connect with through social media and I explain why.
Who Should I Connect With?
As a freelancer, you may wonder how to grow your network through social media.
Regardless of the platform, every social media tool is an opportunity to connect with others. Depending on the tool, your connections may be called by different names. On Twitter, connections are known as followers. On Facebook, they are called friends.
No matter what they are called, the principle is the same. Build a network and grow your freelancing business.
Here are twelve people every freelancer should connect with:
- Family–You’re probably already connected to them, and they probably already have a favorable impression of you. Keeping your immediate and extended family in the loop about your freelancing business is not a bad idea. You never know when one of them might need your services, or know someone else who needs them. Just be careful about overwhelming them with too many business statuses. You may want to create a special Family group or circle so you can select what they receive.
- Friends–Every freelancer needs a support group. Your real life friends can be a valuable asset, so don’t overlook them when you start building your social media networks. Your friends probably know you better than anyone else and can provide objective advice. Plus, you can always pick up the phone and talk to them when you need to hear a friendly voice. But like with family, you need to be careful about overwhelming your friends with too much routine business stuff.
- Former Coworkers–You may not know your former coworkers well, but they can be a key part of your online network because they’re already familiar with your work. As they move through their own careers, many of them may move into positions where they could use your freelancing services or connect you with a company that does. LinkedIn, in particular, is a great way to connect with former coworkers.
- Current Colleagues–Don’t be afraid to connect with other freelancers. Many gurus will tell you not to make these connections, but my relationships with other freelancers have been key to my freelancing success. Not only do other freelancers understand what you’re going through, but today’s freelancer may become tomorrow’s small business startup and a future client.
- Current and Former Clients–You definitely need to stay in touch with current and former clients, and social media provides a tool for doing that. Not only will your clients see your statuses and updates, but you will see theirs. That connection could clue you in to possible future projects. Don’t forget to interact with your clients regularly.
- Prospective Clients–So, you don’t really know these people–at least not yet. But you know that they would make an ideal client for your freelancing business. Why not connect through social media and start to comment on their posts and statuses? That will get your name before them and usually you’ll find that they will connect back to you.
- Former Employers–Like former clients, former employers can be a valuable part of your social media network. You never know when they might be willing to offer you a freelance project. After all, you’re already familiar with their product or service. I’ve known of freelancers who return to their former employer as independent contractors earning two or three times the income that they received as an employee.
- Classmates and Teachers–Some of your best contacts may come from your school days. Use your yearbook or other class memorabilia to help you remember the names of those you went to school with. Besides, it will be interesting to learn what they are doing now. And teachers usually love to find out what their former students are doing.
- Community Leaders–Adding community leaders to your social media network can give you great insights into your local business climate. Plus, many of these people are adding social media to their campaign strategies, so connecting shouldn’t be hard. Think about adding your mayor, congress person, senator, or other local leader.
- Industry Leaders–Who seems to be well-known for their success in your freelancing specialty? If you ask yourself this question, chances are that you will immediately think of a handful of names. You should definitely be following these individuals. Even if they are too busy to interact with you personally, you can gain valuable insights by watching what they do and say.
- Thought Leaders–If everyone is talking about a business thought leader, chances are that you need to familiarize yourself with that thought leader. Connecting through social media is a great way to do that. Even if you don’t agree with them, you should understand and be able to discuss their ideas when clients bring them up.
- People Whose Work You Admire–Did you ever read a blog post or see a web design and think to yourself, “this is great.” If you did, why not connect through social media with the blogger or designer? At the very least, you’re likely to discover more of their great work.
Other Social Media Tips
Using this list, you should be able to build a sizeable network of several hundered people fairly quickly. Just remember to keep adding contacts as you meet new people.
Once you’ve built a sizeable network, you’re not done. Make sure to use built-in organizational tools to keep your contacts straight and control who you share your content with.
On Google+, that means putting your contacts in the appropriate circle. On Twitter, use Twitter lists to group like contacts. For Facebook, you can also create a group.
How did you build your social network? Who do you connect with online, and why?
Share your answers in the comments.