Small Business Local Networking Tips for Freelance Writers

13 May

As a freelance writer (or other freelancer), do you do a lot of local small business networking? You know, those fun gatherings of small business owners held at coffee shops or after hours at the Chamber of Commerce? Maybe you’ve been so buried by writing projects that you haven’t had a chance to get out there and explore what your local business community has to offer in terms of networking resources.

It’s easy to focus on starting a business and the work at hand, yet forgetting about marketing yourself to local business owners. However, if you ignore the great opportunities in your own back yard, you may be missing out on the chance to work with some great local companies who are eager to utilize your writing services! Here are some things I’ve learned as a web copy writer in Charleston, on how to get the most out of local small business networking:

Tip 1 – Have Plenty of Print Marketing Materials On-hand

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about small business networking events over the past couple of years, it’s that people LOVE collecting business cards and information on local writers. So before you head out to small business networking event, be sure to have a ton of business cards, pens and other marketing tangibles on hand to give out to new people you meet. I recommend using Vista Print to get batches of business cards at least, which will set you back about 10 bucks at most. Use this LINK and get 25% off and FREE shipping off your order!

Tip 2 – Be Prepared to Give an Elevator Speech to New People

When meeting new people at a small business networking event, generally each person will be given a chance to give a 30 second introduction. This needs to be short, sweet, and to the point – yet compelling enough to give people a reason to talk to you further. This was a hard lesson to learn the first time I went to one of those small business mixers. I did not know how to say exactly what I did and how I could help others! So I worked on practicing a nice elevator speech and now I can confidently pitch my company to others. Want to learn how to develop your own elevator speech? Go HERE for some fun video tips on crafting your own!

Tip 3 – Stick to the Ten Minute Rule

One of the things that I encountered when meeting new people at small business networking events as a freelance writer was that people immediately wanted to tell me their life story and ask me a bunch of Internet marketing questions. A trap that can cause you to miss out on talking with others in the room is spending way too much time with one person. Before you know it, 30 minutes rolls by and people you haven’t had a chance to meet are already leaving. So to keep things fair, give each person 10 minutes of your time, then gracefully move on to other small business owners. Wrap up each meeting by asking when you may follow up by telephone.

Tip 4 – Always Follow Up With People You Meet at Small Biz Events

If you are going to take the time to start networking locally as a freelance writer, then you definitely need to take the time to follow up with people you meet there. As soon as you can get back to your office, log all the business card contact info into your address book that you’ve collected. Then send everyone a prompt email letting them know how much you enjoyed meeting them at the event and if they might have a moment to speak with you via phone or over coffee in the coming weeks ahead. Give them a couple of days to respond, and then pick up the phone to speak to them personally. You’d be amazed at how many people respond favorably to this invitation and this gives you a chance to expand on what you can offer them as a freelance writer. I have personally ended up with some great clients and friends by doing this!

So, where do you find these small business networking groups, you may ask? Check your local newspaper events calendar section, contact your local Chamber of Commerce and Rotary club, or do a search on Meet-Up online. You will most likely find a great deal of like-minded small businesses in your area who will value the writing and marketing support you can offer right in your own community!

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One Response to “Small Business Local Networking Tips for Freelance Writers”

  1. Jackie Dishner May 13, 2011 at 10:50 pm #

    Great tips, especially the one about the follow-up. So important and so easily forgotten or set aside.

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