A common route to return to
work following a career break is by working as a freelancer, offering your
specific skills to companies or individuals on a project basis. I took the
freelance route when I first started building my executive coaching practice
following my career break and being quite shy and reluctant to ‘sell’ myself, I
found the process of networking to find clients intimidating. Mary Jane
Boholst, a self-described ‘shy, introverted, geeky freelancer’ shares her
expertise on how it’s possible to build your network despite your fears.
about yourself as a professional then the idea of networking to get clients or
jobs as a freelancer can be a daunting one.
which are where to go, who to talk to and how to talk to them. We’ll tackle
those one by one in a moment.
something that helped me to overcome the scary task of actually going
networking to get clients and connections when I decided to take the leap into self-employment
from my job.
attendees and clients alike tell me makes such a difference to how they feel
about networking and it’s:
you do as a job or a career, it makes a difference to the people you provide it
who sees your art, or a digital media professional who advises growing
businesses on how to make the most of the social media channels or a business
consultant who can carry out research and analysis and present recommendations,
the service you provide is a gift that others need.
on that first! Photography, cooking, interior design, counselling, coding,
editing, copyrighting – take your pick! (I highly recommend choosing something
you are passionate about doing.)
where should you meet them?
you time (and money) to think about who you would love to work with.
gift and who you would love to share your gift with?
creatives – the list is endless!
and talk to them.
places they would go and be at those places. If you struggle to find events
eventbrite and meetup have great events that you can go to meet people
with various interests. For more corporate/ professional individuals,
Internations could be a great way for you to meet people.
people, interests and topics that you, and your people, enjoy.
having a great conversation and making sure it is effective.
question like what’s your name? Or what brings you here?
the more that you are interested in the people that you meet, the more they
respond positively and the less self-conscious you’ll feel because you are
focusing on the other person.
want to feel heard?
out if you can help or support the people you meet in some way.
them if they are interested in hearing more about it, before telling them more about
opportunity/event that might help them move toward their goals. Then you can
still ask them to be open to sharing about your work too, once you are done.
plan, so if the first few people you meet are not your clients, still be open
to speaking with them because they may be able to get you one step closer to an
investor, referral, potential client, event or opportunity.
it especially useful to be curious and listen because it doesn’t require you to
be extroverted and someone you are not.
yourself, because it is something my clients say to me all the time and
something I discovered for myself when I discovered how to build my network
in touch with me!
founder of Conscious Cocoon helping women in tech and shy introverted business
owners to step out from behind their computer screens, speak up, speak out and
share their expertise. Find out more here.
Freelancing as a return-to-work option