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Build your professional network

In this post I introduce a new topic that touches us closely as DevInterface, and it’s a topic on which I’m sure that a comparison of views can be useful both to us and to our readers.
What I’m talking about is “how to prepare and present yourself as a freelancer or as a small company trying to find an identity and your own market niche”.
Let’s start with some tips to build your professional network.

Building a strong professional network is one of the most important steps for those who want to build a business as a freelancer or as a company.
A strong network of contacts can lead to new opportunities, greater visibility and greater recognition by companies.

But where to start to create your own professional network?

Before you think to contact companies, institutions and so on, have you ever thought about presenting your business to people you know?

First, a clarification: I think we can divide contacts into two categories which I identify in community and network.

With the term community I mean all those contacts, real or virtual, known in the workplace rather than at courses or conferences, that perform your own profession. Of course, by participating in conferences and seminars you will meet many professionals with which synergies or collaborations may arise. But usually, these are all people that are unlikely to bring new customers to you.

When I speak about building your own network I instead mean to use your personal contacts to advertise and reach companies and customers otherwise inaccessible.
If a friend of yours recommend you a professional, perhaps you are more inclined to use its services rather than turning to a stranger, you agree?
With this premise here is a possible way forward.

We all have at least one e-mail address with a some hundred contacts collected over the years.
So take this list and divide it according to what, in terms of potential customers, each contact can bring.
In practice, you have to ask yourself: what can this person do for my business? If the answer is “nothing” go forward otherwise do not waste time and contact him.

But now, what strategy to adopt to promote your business among your acquaintances?

The best way is undoubtedly a phone call: it’s a more direct contact than email and allows you to re-establish or strengthen a relationship and to steer the conversation where you want, clearly to talk about your new business.
A phone call allows you also to better clarify the type of activity undertaken, which as you may know, is not always so easy to explain in a letter.

But if call is not for you, cause you feel uncomfortable or you’re not a skilled orator, the second choice is the email: if you choose to send an email to all your contacts to promote your new business remember this simple trick. Write an email template and thus customize it for any person you are about to contact. Try not to sound too formal and especially try to good clarify what’s your business is.

Regardless what type of contact you choose it’s important to close the call (or the email) with a classical phrase like: “If you or someone you know seems to need my services, please feel free to contact me.”

I know it seems trivial and obvious. But keep in mind that all your contact in turn has a list of contacts as long as yours or more. So if you contact 50 people and these in turn are in contact with each other 50 … You can see well that your chances and your network are greatly expanding.
And it often happens that the more unsuspectable people are in relation to companies or managers who may have need of your services. Do not underestimate this aspect.

Obviously, before embarking on this adventure you should establish your own market strategies and be aware of what you look for and what you want to offer.
But we can talk about that topic in some future post.

I know that many of you who follow us are freelancers.
Therefore all you will face every day with these “challenges”.

What strategies do you adopt?

Have you ever thought to use your contact list in a similar way?

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