One of the best-kept secrets in B2B writing is who you know can help you.
Businesses are made of people, and people want to do business with people they know and trust. And the more people you know and trust and who know and trust you, the more writing work will flow in and out of your life.
In this B2B Craftworks podcast episode, “Writing Professional need to Network: How to Get The Biggest ROI for Your Time”, freelance writer, editor, and content marketer Melissa Suzuno shares her expert advice on how to approach digital networking as a B2B writer.
To listen to the complete episode, simply use the audio player below. You can also subscribe to B2B Craftworks to listen on your preferred podcast platform.
What would you say is the best and worst about digital networking?
The best way to think of networking is not to approach it as a separate stand-alone entity but instead work to integrate it into your regular, everyday life. Think of it as a way of helping other people by connecting with other people online. When you frame it in those terms, it is not so intimidating.
Probably the worst thing about networking is that people have a preconceived notion that networking has to be done wearing a business suit, and you have to “work the room” while passing out your business cards, and it has to be slick and sales-y, like a scene out of a bad 80s movie. In my experience, when networking is done right, especially in the digital space, it doesn’t feel like that at all.
What has been your experience with networking in the digital space?
We’re fortunate today that we have so many different ways to network without actually leaving our home offices. We can build our LinkedIn profile, which provides writers with a way to build our portfolio, and we can easily share our work with other people.
On LinkedIn, people are actually looking for content to share with their networks, which in turn can provide exponential exposure that you wouldn’t ever be able to reach just by sharing with the people in your existing network.
The digital space provides a great opportunity to move out of your comfort zone and make new connections, both vertically and horizontally. Most of us think of vertical networking, connecting with potential clients who offer paid jobs. But horizontal networking with designers, people in SEO, technology, IT, marketing, and especially other writers, is a network and career expansion opportunity that, even with those in a competing niche, can really change your business.
For example, my newest client came from another person in the HR space who is working with that same client. They needed more HR writers, so they brought me in. Traditionally, writers may have viewed others as competition and been hesitant to refer anybody to one of their clients.
What are two or three tactics you recommend to help people with digital networking?
Tactic #1: Connecting with others in your specific field and industry.
There is enough work to go around, and it’s highly likely you’re not going to be able to take on every single thing that comes your way. When you are connected to a network, if somebody approaches you and you don’t have the bandwidth at that particular moment, it’s easy for you to pass that along to somebody else. And then there’s a good chance that in the future, they will return the favor.
When you’re plugged into an online community, it makes it much easier to connect, and fortunately, there are so many great Facebook groups and Slack communities. For example, Culture Amp has a very active HR (aka people geeks) community that is always sharing resources.
An important aspect of digital networking is that it helps you shift from a scarcity mindset to one of abundance. This is a common barrier that almost every freelancer may face. Tapping into different communities, whether they’re super tiny and niche or humongous and you’re just a fly on the wall, will help fill your brain with the idea that there is lots of work out there, even if you can’t yet see it.
In addition, being a part of an online community can give you insights into your audience. Hearing what they’re talking about, their exact pain points or the angle from which they’re thinking makes it much easier to create content that resonates with them. Which, ultimately, is what we’re all trying to do; help people with the content that we’re creating.
Tactic #2: Creating a mastermind group of peers.
My mastermind group is comprised of four members; some of us are writing-focused, and some are on the strategy and consulting side. We all live in different places, so we meet via Google Hangout every other week to share what we’re working on, or if we have a particular problem or question, we can throw it out to the group and get advice and input.
Having a group of peers to consult with and help each other with all the different situations provides an amazing level of support and a sense of community.
And if you’re not in a position to create your own group, there are many other mastermind resources out there, such as:
Tactic #3: Volunteering.
As a freelancer, I did find that I sometimes miss being a part of a team or feeling like I was part of a community. So, I started looking for volunteer opportunities within the creative niche and found that one of the groups I was already familiar with, Creative Mornings, was seeking social media help. Volunteering in this role has been a great way of meeting other creative people and being part of a community.
Even if a volunteer position does not directly lead to paid work, it gives you the opportunity to learn new things and meet and engage with other professionals in a way you may not otherwise. Being involved in a community can introduce you to things you may not otherwise be exposed to.
How do you regularly fit digital networking into your schedule?
Like anything else, if it matters to you, then you need to prioritize and put it on your calendar and make time for it. And when it’s viewed as an enjoyable experience, not a burden or a chore, it makes it much easier to make the time for it. I carve out a regular time each week to review my content archives, pull out past work I’ve done and then write up some social media content to go with it.
One final question: what is the best way to make a new connection online?
If you come across somebody who seems interesting, the first step is to follow them on a platform like Twitter or connect with them on LinkedIn. Keep up with their content, like, and comment on their posts to establish a little bit of rapport before taking the next step and asking for an informational interview or meeting in person.
For more in-depth information on digital networking as a freelancer writer, check out the resource section of Melissa’s website: http://blog.melissasuzuno.com.