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6 Powerful Reasons Why You Need to Network with Your Freelance Peers

by Laura Spencer

on February 17, 2014

in Freelancing Life Marketing

Learn how to earn $125 or more per hour as a freelancer - Free Test Drive

Should you network with other freelancers?

This has been a hotly debated topic, probably for as long as there have been freelancers.

On the one hand, freelancers don’t often hire other freelancers directly. (I myself have only done it less than dozen times, and that’s over a fairly long freelancing career.) Networking with peers may seem like a waste of time.

On the other hand, being part of a freelance community provides some significant advantages. In many ways, peer networking can give your freelancing business a boost.

Personally, I think that the benefits of networking with freelancing peers far outweighs the disadvantages. In this post, I’ll provide six reasons why I think you should network with other freelancers.

If you liked this post, you’ll probably also like 29 Easy Ways That Freelancers Can Feel Less Lonely (All New).

Why You Should Network with Peers

Other freelancers are your competition. It’s a waste of time to connect with them online or face-to-face, right?

If this is what you think you might be missing out.

Here are six reasons why you should network with other freelancers:

  1. It takes a freelancer to understand a freelancer. Let’s face it. Unless they are also freelancers, your friends and family are probably a little confused about what you do. They just can’t relate to your “tough days at the office” when they know that you never leave your house.
  2. Experienced freelancers can serve as unofficial mentors. One of the quickest ways to improve your skills and grow as a freelancer is to use a mentor. While there are some official mentorship programs out there, an unofficial mentor is often just as helpful.
  3. Even experienced freelancers need help sometimes. If you’re an experienced freelancer, you may feel that you are beyond needing a mentor. But having experience doesn’t mean you never need help. Having access to other experienced freelancers can help you find the answers to tough freelancing issues.
  4. Freelancers move in and out of traditional employment. Today, your contact may be a freelancer. Tomorrow, your contact may be working for a company that hires freelancers. The lines between freelancing and traditional employment are very fluid.
  5. Freelancers do sometimes refer work that they are unable to do. Although I’ve not often hired other freelancers directly, I have sometimes referred projects that I know aren’t a good fit for me to other freelancers. If you can get several other freelancers referring work to you, that can be significant.
  6. Everybody needs a few friends. Besides, who doesn’t need a few more friends? Friends can provide encouragement when you’re feeling down. I can’t begin to count the number of times an online friend made my day by saying a few kind words.

How Not to Network with Peers

Connecting with peers is great, but it’s important to understand the right way to network with other freelancers. You don’t want your peers to view you as a nuisance.

Here are some bad freelance networking tactics that will only annoy your peers:

  • Asking for work immediately after connecting with another freelancer. Unless the freelancer has actually posted a job listing, they probably don’t have any current openings.
  • Trying to give a hard sell for an affiliate product to your contact. Most people don’t like strangers who seem to connect solely for the reason of selling them things.
  • Talking about yourself all the time. Friendships need to go two ways. If all you do is share information about yourself, you’re not really connecting. Take time to listen as well as share.
  • Going on autopilot. Automation can be a convenient tool. It can also keep you from actually connecting with others. Answer any questions directed to you several times a day.
  • Undermining other freelancers. Sharing the dirt on your competition with your freelancing friends may seem like a good way to bond. But actually, it makes you seem like a malicious gossip.
  • Not seeming approachable. Is your profile filled out? Do you have an image? What about a link back to your blog? Not providing enough information makes you look like a possible spammer.
  • Reacting angrily when someone doesn’t connect. If you’re trying to connect with a specific freelancer and they don’t respond, move on. Who knows why they aren’t responding back, but don’t take it personally.

Your Turn

Do you think networking with peers is worth your time? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Learn how to earn $125 or more per hour as a freelancer - Free Test Drive

About Laura Spencer

Laura Spencer is a freelance writer from North Central Texas with over 20 years of professional business writing experience. If you liked this post, then you may also enjoy LauraĆ¢??s blog about her freelance writing experiences, WritingThoughts. Laura is also on Google+.