Once you’ve become a freelancer, you may be thinking about going along to some networking events to drum up some work. It’s a great way to meet clients and to advertise yourself. It’s also a chance to get in with your local freelancing community, which can often be a great resource of help and advice.
The thing is, a lot of us aren’t great at that type of thing. We might be shy or unwilling to big ourselves up. It’s completely natural. If you’re a freelance translator, even though you are working with words, it’s not a prerequisite to be great at small talk. Either way, here are a few tips to make the whole ordeal easier and more successful.
Throw Away Your Elevator Pitch
You’ve probably heard of ‘elevator pitches’ before. That pitch that should fit in the length of an elevator ride. It’s meant to be honed to perfection so that no person could resist its charms. While there are some uses for such a thing, at a networking event you should forget it altogether.
It’s a different environment with a huge array of different people. What works on one person won’t work on another, so trying to twist your set-in-stone-speech to everyone won’t work and you’ll fumble. What you should be doing is listening and paying attention to what the person you’re talking to is like. With a more fluid and flexible approach to explaining yourself, you’ll find it way easier to get your point across in the right way.
Don’t Expect Too Much
It can be easy to think that you’ll show up and wow a bunch of people with your skills and knowledge and come home with a sackful of potential leads. This is unlikely to be the case. Even if you are impressive, that doesn’t mean you’ll do well off the night. Sometimes there just won’t be people looking for your work (this doesn’t mean they won’t think of you when they do need it though).
If you go in expecting a lot, you’ll stress yourself out before hand and risk knocking your confidence at the end of it. Just go in relaxed. Try to get some work out of it, of course, but be a bit more natural. You’ll come across better like that anyway.
Remember They’re Just Like You
There will be some networking veterans there who’ll buzz around the room like hummingbirds, but there will also be plenty of first timers like yourself. Just as nervous, just as unsure. Either way, everyone starts off like that and it just takes a bit of time. See it like practice. Remember, this is all for your own benefit. No one is expecting you to talk to everyone and no one is expecting you to bring a load of work. Just let yourself settle in and take your own pace. This is the best part of being a freelancer, you set your own targets. Just remember, there’s no need to be too hard on yourself.
Listen More Than You Speak
As a final bit of advice, this might seem contrary to your aims and it kind of is. My point is that you should use your first networking event to learn how it all works and how people interact with each other. Pay attention to how others bring up projects, what they do and how they get work. Going in with this attitude will help you to relax. See your first few times as a breaking in period. Then, when you feel ready, hit them hard.