As someone with a well-established freelance copywriting business, I’m frequently asked if I use networking as my primary method for getting clients?
I do to some degree, but most of my networking these days is done on social media. I get to know folks through LinkedIn and occasionally Facebook. When they have a copywriting need for their business or know someone seeking a copywriter, they’ll contact me. So my networking is online, not in person, but that doesn’t mean traditional networking can’t work for you.
When I was starting my freelance copywriting business eons ago. I always had a stack of business cards in my purse. I never missed an opportunity to meet someone new and talk about their business, which often then led to talking about my business.
The way I got clients was by joining networking organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, which had monthly business-after-hours networking events. I also joined several local women’s professional groups. I made it a point to know EVERYONE.
I volunteered to sit on the boards or to be the editor/copywriter of their newsletters. That way everyone got to know me and also my capabilities.
I attended any business trade shows held in my local area. It was another great opportunity to meet new people and also reconnect with business people I already knew.
I would make notes as I walked around the show of people to reach out to after the show. Sometimes that meant sending them a follow-up email saying it was nice to meet them and oh, by the way, I offer these services. Other times, it was a phone call to try to schedule a meeting, if they’d expressed an interest when we initially spoke.
I also did cold-calling, which sucked but occasionally netted some work. I don’t know anyone who enjoys it. I would contact individuals or businesses who I thought might possibly have a need for my services. Sending an introductory letter was less painful than making calls but still not my idea of fun.
Slightly better than cold-calling was connecting with other professionals like graphic designers, videographers and product photographers who could refer work to me. And I also netted work from calling on ad agencies that didn’t have a full-time copywriter on board.
Back in those days, you spent a lot of time getting business that now goes into doing business. The internet changed everything. Now I’m practically a shut-in.
Because I work so many hours and don’t go to meetings, I’m almost always home, which is where my office is. My husband and I have even begun considering whether we should downsize to one car instead of two!
I use my website, blog and some social media networking as I mentioned as the primary means for bringing in new business. I don’t even have business cards because I never meet anyone in person.
I should mention too that the majority of my clients are not local. Any type of in-person networking I’ve done would never have led me to them. Like so many businesses, I look to the internet for worldwide exposure. Recently, I’ve done copywriting projects for companies in China, Singapore, Germany and France.
Gone are the days when you’d do a big dog and pony show. What’s the sales process look like now? Here’s how it usually goes down.
I realize it’s a luxury to have a steady stream of clients who are referred to me or find my website and contact me, eliminating the need for me to do any cold-calling or selling. I’ve worked hard to get to this point, building my freelance copywriting practice for years. Someone just starting out is not going to be in that position.
What would I do if I was now not in that situation? I’d probably revert back to doing some networking, both in person and online. There’s value in getting to know people who have the possibility of hiring you for copywriting gigs or referring you to people they know. Family, friends and businesses that you know in the area can be a great place to start.
The most successful freelance copywriters aren’t necessarily the best writers. Often, they’re just the most effective sellers of their services.
* * *