Professional Networking as a Freelancer
Freelancers can build their business and their skills by networking with other people.
Working from home as a freelancer can get lonely sometimes. For people who are highly social and like the rush of a collaborative team environment, freelancing can feel very isolated. Professional networking solves this problem, and it can even help freelancers enhance their careers and get more work.
Professional networking, with others in or outside your industry, has many benefits. People working in translation can talk to others who are competent in the same languages as them, or professionals in related areas of business like tourism or second language teaching.
Networking as a freelancer can help you develop long-term friendships, give you emotional support when you are frustrated in your job, direct you towards new employment opportunities, and keep you updated on news and special events.
Instead of feeling like you are restricted to working in solitude, reach out to other professionals who are interesting to you – for whatever reason. Connecting online will allow you to chat throughout the day via e-mail, social media and Skype. You might schedule regular catch up meetings to discuss your current translation projects, or only contact each other on the odd occasion.
The relationships you form with other professionals, through networking, can be what you make of them. If you want to feel like you have a team to support you, create one of your own. Working as a freelancer does not mean that you need to work alone, if you can reach out and find other people who need the same amount of socialisation as you.
Search and Converse
There are many ways to find someone to add to your network. In the beginning you will probably need to make a concerted effort to network, but after practise it will become second nature. Online, the mainstream social sites are a great place to start, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Message boards and forums that are relevant to your industry are also useful, or you can join a network of people who have translation blogs.
Twitter, LinkedIn groups and Facebook groups are excellent tools for meeting strangers who share the same interests as you. People use them specifically for social interaction, so it is completely fine to speak up and introduce yourself. Start a conversation and your online professional network will grow from there.
Offline networking includes organised social events, talking to people in your community group or church, attending industry conferences and expos, and using your family and friends as contacts. Make the most of your existing social network, to find people who are similar to you professionally.
Offline and online contacts should be merged. If you meet someone online who you get along with well, why not meet up for a coffee when you are in their area? Or exchange e-mail addresses with the people you meet at face-to-face events, so you can continue networking via the web. Be brave and give it a go.
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