I like to attend professional networking events with freelancers a generation younger than me. It’s fascinating how millennials network much differently from boomers. Here is what I’ve observed: http://blogcritics.org/coming-of-age-as-a-self-employed-networker-field-notes-of-an-amateur-anthropologist-among-freelancing-millennials/
Conventional wisdom recommends that the first order of business for freelancers is to determine the service we will offer and whom we will offer it to. We should narrow our specialty niche and our target market very narrowly so we know where to find these prospects, say the universal “they.” We look into our souls and dig deep to embrace our paths.
However, as I observe how people are marketing today, I suspect that it is more realistic and efficient to determine how we will market and then narrow in on services and specialties that work with our marketing channel.
In an initial marketing conversation, you want to get the other person to talk about themselves, especially their business and their business problems. You are using their talking to learn what they are doing, to see if there is an interface between the problems they face and the problems you solve, and to hear the language they use to frame these problems.
Don’t rush into networking groups that don’t feel right. If you attend once and there is no chemistry, they probably are not your perfect community. You may wish to give it one more try. Or simply don’t go back! Give yourself permission to trust your gut. Save your energy for people who are right for you.
Despite good intentions, many corporate employees are unable to develop a strong network of personal relationships, even if they expect to quit their job (or be terminated) in favor of freelancing and consulting. The reasons isn’t laziness–it’s because regular jobs are structured to prevent networking.
What do you say when you meet someone new at a networking event? Probably: What do you do? Let’s explore alternatives that offer a little more originality and take our conversation down a less expected path.
The best way to approach someone for a professional type of friendship on Facebook is to suggest professional relevance without downright propositioning for business at the first exchange.