When I got started as a freelancer some 9 years ago I was still operating with a corporate mindset and did not even think for a minute that I would need anything else in my network than clients.

After years of failing to grow my business and wasting a lot of money, I realised through taking classes and starting to attend conferences that in order to succeed as an entrepreneur you need to build your network. Because you can’t do it alone.There are 4 types of people that I need in my network:

1) Clients/customers

That one is obvious. Depending on what you are offering you might be working with clients or customers.
A customer is someone that buys one of your products but you have no interaction with him/her whatsoever.
A client on the other hand is someone you purchases a service or product from you and her you have established some type of relationship.

2) Peers/colleagues : masterminds, online meetings, one forums/groups, emails

Some would consider peers as competition. They can be that is true, but if you design your business so that it is unique and that represents who you are and what you stand for, you’ll be attracting the people that you are meant to work with.
Peers are important to have in your network, they can provide support, accountability, advice, strategy, they could also help in situations where you don’t know what to do as they might have encountered a similar one.

3) Mentor/coach, people you can learn from

Having a mentor/coach was for me the stepping stone in growing my business to what it is today. it not only provided me the confidence I needed to grow, I showed me by example the possibilities when you put yourself out there. I learned that in order to things to change I had to change. And that meant stepping out of my comfort zone on a regular basis in order to get to the next level.

If you feel stuck in your business and feel like you’re not growing and don’t know where to start, you definitely need a mentor or coach.
A mentor/coach can provide support (business or personal as we often have mental blocks that need to be identified), accountability, focus strategies to grow your business, someone you can bounce off ideas with and that can give you an external view of your business as we’re often blind to our own things.

4) Referral sources/partners

Partners are no doubt what allowed me to build consistency in my business. These relationships are based on trust and take some time to be built.
Partners not only help you get more clients/customers as they will be referring you to their clients, but you are also resourceful to your own clients by providing them trusted resources on products and services that you do not offer.
In order for the relationship to work it needs to be a win-win.

If you can’t think of what type of business you could partner with ask yourself who shares the same audience as you do? What are other products or service that your ideal client needs? Those are you potential partners. For example if you’re a developer, what kind of products or service do your clients need besides a website developed ?

  • they probably need branding
  • a website design
  • copywriting
  • social media management
  • a virtual assistant
  • graphic design (ebook ,social media images,business cards ..)
  • OBM

It’s only when I realised that those were the people that I needed to be surrounded with that things started to fall into place. I cherish each of these relationships and I’m constantly working on growing my network. I do that by:

  • attending events
  • engaging with people on social media
  • reaching out by email to people that I think could help me grow my business and that I believe I could help in return. (again it needs to be a win-win relationship for it to work).

Now I’d like to hear from you: what do you think of your current network? What category do you feel is your weakest and what do you plan to do to grow it?

 

SHARE THIS POST