The importance of connections

Brought to you by Reel Talk with Jason: Freelancing Made Easy

As much as it is about what you know, who you know can play a major part in a freelancer's business. In this edition of Reel Talk with Jason Tiller, Rocketspark Head of Partnerships, we cover what kind of connections you might need and why. How you make those connections and how you keep them.

What kind of connections do I need and why do I need them?

You need professional connections that aren’t necessarily related to your business. For example, a good connection for any freelancer could be an accountant that you know who might not need your services, but could possibly have clients that they might refer you to. That’s a connection worth having and looking after.

You also want business connections within your field, because you will want to be able to collaborate and gain inspiration from the people around you. That is really valuable from a design community sense that’s where a lot of the drive for improvement comes from. When you see what everyone else is doing it can push you to be better.

How do I make them?

Be approachable. Try and become an expert in your field, being a thought leader can be a valuable way to make professional connections. To do that, you need to create content, blogging, instagram stories, and featuring on things. If you can get on a panel as an expert in your field that’s awesome, it’s great exposure, because you are the expert.

If you don’t feel comfortable with being on stage, make it more personal. Join a local networking group. If you’ve got kids, that can be a great way to do professional networking on the sly, PTA meetings, after school sports and programmes. It’s just about talking to other people and showing genuine interest in what they do.

LinkedIn can be good if you already have an audience. With social media, Instagram and Facebook are the best starting points. 

Local events are a great way to create connections. The Chamber of Commerce will put a thing on, go to it. 

Some people can find it hard to network in person, so here are a few tips:

  • Research before an event - this might sound funny, but look up who might be going and learn a bit about them before you go so you’re not overwhelmed with too many new faces.
  • Dress for the occasion - being dressed well can help you portray confidence and if you can portray it, you can start to feel it.
  • Don’t be afraid to take a minute - If you feel overwhelmed, excuse yourself for a “phone call” and gather your thoughts before re-entering the event.
  • Prepare some conversation starters before you arrive - topical news stories, what are you working on at the time? What are they working on? Do you follow any industry blogs? What do you love most about your job? How did you get into this field? Don’t forget to introduce yourself!
  • Be yourself - keep it professional, but let your personality shine through, authenticity goes hand in hand with a genuine encounter.

How do I keep these connections?

Authenticity will help you keep your connections. People know when you are just using them. Take a genuine interest in people. Reach out and arrange coffee catch ups. One of our design partners posts on her Instagram saying she’s free for a coffee-catch-up with whoever wants it regularly and not only does it help her keep in touch with her current connections, it creates new ones.

In terms of a professional sense, stay on top of your field, be the person that they go to for design advice or media advice or whatever you specialise in. And be open to giving that advice, as long as you are not letting them take you for granted and it’s not one-sided.

It all takes work and consistency. 

Did you miss our last Reel Talk with Jason? Check it out here.