Even in the before-times, a crowded hall of strangers exchanging small talk, business cards, and handshakes was often unappealing. Luckily, cattle call-style networking events are no longer needed to expand your professional circle. Communities such as Mailchimp & Co give members access to a ready-built network of their peers. The first step is simply signing up, but to really get the most out of these valuable resources, we’ve put together a few dos and don’ts that’ll help you build a robust professional network.
The Dos and Don’ts of Networking for Agencies and Freelancers
What to do (and what to avoid) while building your network in the no‑handshake era
Do: Think beyond the lead
There’s more to networking than just landing a gig. You can never assume which relationships will yield dividends. If you equate networking solely with boosting your bottom line, you’ll miss out on all the other ways networking can bring you professional fulfillment.
Don’t: Hard sell
When networking, make sure you're keeping it real and representing yourself accurately. There's nothing wrong with tooting your own horn, but nobody likes someone who’s constantly hyping (and only talking about) themselves.
Do: Connect with your peers
Through Mailchimp & Co events, meet-ups, and the partner Slack channel, you can connect with fellow Mailchimp devotees across the globe. Many partners have never met in the flesh, but they’ve forged bonds over Zoom calls and DMs. Partners share leads, learn from each other, and even collaborate on bigger projects that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to tackle on their own.
Don’t: Overthink things
Be confident about your skill set and open to learning from folks who have more experience than you. Imposter syndrome is real. But when you learn what your peers have accomplished, you better understand what you’re capable of—and it’s probably more than you give yourself credit for.
Offer your skills to an organization you support to build a new network of contacts. You’d be surprised at the personal fulfillment you can get when working with an organization that aligns with your values.
Don’t: Forget to follow up
If you're going to volunteer, make sure you have the bandwidth to stay committed. Or at least, be very clear up front about what you can and will commit to. Don't become a no-show when things are getting busy. It doesn’t just hurt the organization that’s depending on you, it hurts your credibility, too.
Do: Be social
Leverage your existing social contacts by posting your work across various channels. This will help you connect with other freelancers, build your brand and increase exposure. Social media is a great venue to display your expertise. Creating content that your industry peers will share frames you as the expert, which may land you not just likes, but leads, too.
Don’t: Mix your feeds
Try not to mix the professional and personal too much on your social channels. Be friendly and approachable, but make sure your public-facing content supports and enhances your brand.
Do: Ask for help
Building a relationship with a seasoned vet has many pluses. Befriending an established professional—or even asking them to mentor you—will not only gain you access to their already robust network, but you can also rely on them for advice, too. They’ve been at all the career forks in the road you’re about to meet, so let their lived experience benefit you.
Don’t: Forget to help
Try taking on a mentee to share your expertise with. Not only does giving back make you feel good, but these relationships can also yield surprising dividends—you’ll discover new ways to improve and grow.