Networks are essential for freelancers.
To build and maintain a strong network of freelancers — whether you want to team up, hire, or refer work to one another — it’s important to make sure it’s diverse.
Here are six ways to build and nurture a diverse network of freelancers.
Start by evaluating your current network
Take stock of your network as it stands: Are you connected with people from all backgrounds, industries, races, and identities? Or does your network mainly consist of people who look and sound just like you?
Building and nurturing a diverse network begins with being honest about what the current state of your network is.
Once you audit your network and identify any gaps, then you can take steps to expand and diversify the freelancers you work with.
Connect with people across disciplines
It’s easy to network with people in the same industry or specialty as you. But if you want to grow your business, it helps to have connections to people with diverse skills.
When you have a network of designers, strategists, and developers on your team, you can expand your offerings and be prepared for any project that comes your way.
If you’re a graphic designer, connect with a copywriter. If you are a marketing strategist, reach out to a website developer.
Not only is this beneficial for client projects, but it’s always a good idea to connect with people who are experts in different fields. There’s a lot you can learn from each other when you swap perspectives on business, processes, and more.
Network often and with intention
Even if you don’t have a project coming up, make it a habit to connect with new people regularly.
Think about it this way: if the only time you reach out to new freelancers is when you’re rushing to find people for a client project, then you’re coming from a place of need and may be less intentional about who you’re connecting with.
When you’re consistent yet intentional about networking, you can make quality connections and expand your network in an authentic way.
Join a variety of groups
Joining networking groups is a good way to connect with freelancers from all disciplines, all over the world.
There are plenty of Slack communities, Facebook Groups, membership platforms, and nonprofit organizations dedicated to a range of missions and interests. Even if it’s not related to freelancing or your discipline, there are always ways to learn from each other, share different perspectives, and open up to new ideas or ways of doing things.
Plus, when you’re part of a group that has already established a diverse network of people, it’s easier to build your own personal network from that.
Be transparent about pay
There’s no sugarcoating it: Inequality and racism in the freelance industry is undeniable.
But this is why pay transparency is so important. Being transparent about rates and pricing with your network can help other freelancers negotiate bigger rates that reflect the value they bring to the table.
It’s also important to be transparent around pay when you’re teaming up with or hiring other freelancers for a client project.
Everyone who’s contributing to the project needs to know upfront exactly what the work entails and how much they’re getting paid so they can make an informed decision on whether or not the project is right for them.
Pay transparency is all about building trust among teammates to ensure everyone is paid equitably.
Nurture the relationships
When it comes to building a network, it’s important to remember that a relationship goes two ways.
Don’t just reach out to freelancers when you need them for a project. Maintain a connection by sending them referrals, supporting their work, or catching up over virtual coffee every so often.
Simply put, nurturing your network means genuinely caring about and looking out for your fellow freelancers and independents.