Freelancer

How to build your professional network?

Written by Laura Swysen

7 minutes of reading

Having an idea is good, finding partners to make it real is even better. Building a robust professional network is key to develop your projects. But where and how to search for the “right people”? 

Everyone knows Steve Job but would have Apple been a global success story without Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne? Would the mainstream public know of John Hanke’s Niantic company without his massive support team? An idea might be essential to develop a project but its realization and growth are as important as the initial spark. Developer, graphic designer, communication, or marketing expert: there are so many jobs that are crucial to launching a start-up. Actually too much for one person, even with a huge motivation, to handle them all. This is the reason you need to develop a network as large as possible

Knock on the right door 

“There are no coincidences, only encounters”. Even if French author Paul Eluard did not live in the social media era, he had realized the importance of making new professional relationships. “Networking” is the ability to further develop one’s connections in order to find the right people at the right time. To do so, there are several real and virtual places where to make new links. Thanks to their casual setups, BeTech’s after works are an ideal location to meet with potential colleagues in the tech industry. Coworking spaces, such as Molengeek in Brussels or Co.Station in Charleroi, are also interesting spots to connect with savvy entrepreneurs. Always be aware of the next conference or workshop by following as many websites related to your favorite sectors as possible, such as EventBrite, French Tech Brussels, Digital Wallonia, or Innovatech.    

In order to boost women’s presence in the corporate world, women-oriented networks have also risen −such as WoWo, Jump, Women in Tech.Brussels or F.A.R− and are useful tools to tie professional relationships. Too shy? No worries, there are websites linking freelancers and companies, such as Beelance. These secured platforms foster new encounters in a fully professional environment.  

Strike while the iron is hot 

Making new connections is a great start, but the most important is to maintain your network. You’ve chatted with a dozen people after the last conference you attended? Do not rest on your laurels, the professional events regulars meet a lot of people and will have soon forgotten about you unless they get some news. Try not to harass them by sending a ton of emails. If you have professionally matched with someone, offer them to get a coffee a few days later. It is always nice to know their background better or to discuss a possible collaboration.

Do not get in touch only when you need a favor but keep contact from time to time whilst mentioning your own project’s evolution. It is not because an entrepreneur does not need your services at a given time that it won’t be the case a few months later. The most important is for people not to forget about you.      

Play the right tune

Develop new connections is also and mostly about working on oneself. Be at every after work in Belgium without daring to say a word won’t be very helpful…

Define your expectations and goals. Do you simply seek inspiration or do you have a concrete idea to expand? Work on your approach, whether virtual: sharpen your emails, find a punchy teaser and be as clear as possible; or direct: smile, speak up, and express your ideas in a concise way. In that way, you will hold all the cards to find the person or the people that will best support your new career!  

 

You can find more information on how to boost you career or how to get yourself organized in our category “freelancer” 😉

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