Freelance Blog + writing

Open Thread: Networking Success Stories

Every so often, a writer or other freelancer tells me how much they hate networking, how it just doesn't pay off for them, and how they'd much rather be at home watching episodes of True Blood. Yes, networking often forces you out of your comfort zone and into a roomful of strangers. Rarely does it offer an immediate pay-off and sometimes it doesn't pay off at all. But when it works, it works. That's why I'd like to swap networking success stories for this week's open thread to show how some of the best freelance opportunities come from your network. It doesn't matter if you're using Twitter or LinkedIn or attending meetings of your local chamber of commerce or meeting other writers informally for coffee. The important thing is to get your name out there and get involved in the community. Two stories that illustrate my point:

  • A few years ago, as I prepared to visit some friends in Washington, D.C, I decided to email a blogger I admire and see if she'd like to meet for coffee while I was in the area. We had a lovely time over coffee, so I looked her up the next time I visited D.C. and she asked if I'd like to come along to her writer's group. There I met several other writers and we started following each other on Twitter. I saw a few of them again at the ASJA conference. One of the D.C. writers heard from her editor that she needed someone in Boston to cover a conference, so she referred me and that wound up being a very fruitful opportunity. (That editor also needed a photographer so I found a friend of a friend and referred him, too.)
  • Before I left my full-time job, I heard about a copywriting company that subcontracts projects to freelancers. Turns out one of my mentors knew the founders so she suggested I contact them. At first they didn't have any projects that fit my skills. But I kept in touch, sending a holiday card and semi-regular emails until (almost a year later) they needed someone to write product descriptions for a toy catalogue. I worked on that project for nearly two years, and I've written for their other retail clients as well.
What about you? Have you landed a new gig thanks to social networking? Or do you focus more on in-person networking? What's worked best for you and do you have any success stories to share? Flickr photo courtesy of Litandmore

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Open Thread: Networking Success Stories + writing