• Tammy Layman-Hall

An Idea to Sidestep Your Fear of Networking

Networking is simple, if you keep it friendly

Networking is tough when you freelance. If you're not careful, you risk coming across as slimy. Showing up solo to networking events is awkward. If you like me, you'd rather not go. Instead, I set a goal for the number of networking contacts I'd like to meet for the quarter. Then, I go grab a coffee with an old colleague.

More often than not, old work buddies are up for a quick bite. For me, I let them know I'm opening to meeting their new coworkers. You know, people who replaced me, other co-workers who have moved on, and those colleagues I don't run into as often. In the summer months, as a freelancer with kids, playdate meet-ups at our local park work well.

Then, as a writer for hire, do dress up a bit. One doesn't have to look like they spend their days writing from a basement office in cozy pants. Freelance time is a luxury the working souls do not enjoy. So, show up on time. As I am truly happy to see them, I am naturally warm and friendly. I ask about all of those things that really matter to them, like their dog, their wife, their family and well, their passions. Mostly, listen.

Be sure to update them on your business when they ask. You may sprinkle the conversation with tidbits of your availability as it comes up. Again, listen. This is how you're going to learn their pain points. For example, during my recent lunch meet-up, my friend's company migrating to yet another LMS. He couldn't remember the name of of the system.

"Text me the name," I say.

Sure enough, when he got back to the office, he sent a friendly text with the name of the new LMS. Now, I know what skill set to update and their financial outlook for next year.

All for the price of coffee.

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