Networking: An approach that can lead to big wins
Do you run your own business or are you self-employed? If so, you probably know that networking is the most effective marketing tool for your business. Through networking, you make contacts, increase awareness of your company and win new contracts. But that’s not all...
I began working independently in 2007, first under the name DEF-Trad, then Ceci-cela Communication. I have never regretted this decision because this way of working offers me so many advantages: flexibility, diversity, freedom, responsibility, etc.
As a freelancer, however, not everything is rosy. You have to create work opportunities every day. Some of my clients have been with me since the beginning. Others are more recent; even just occasional. But with a few rare exceptions, I have always won my mandates and clients thanks to the recommendations of common acquaintances – former colleagues, friends, friends of friends – or through social networks, including LinkedIn.
Networking: IRL or online?
You can network IRL (in real life) by attending networking evenings, such as after-work events. Instead, I recommend that you register with professional associations and participate in their workshops and trainings. Personally, I attend the annual conferences organized by the Swiss Association of Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters (ASTTI). I also participate in the Swiss Marketing Club Neuchâtel events, which are followed by a networking cocktail hour. Events of this type are more interesting, and meetings are more targeted.
In this age of all-powerful social media, you can – and MUST – also make yourself known and recognized through social networks. I use the best-known channels: Facebook for my private profile, and LinkedIn for my professional profile and my company Ceci-cela Communication. Both regularly allow me to connect with clients.
Whatever channel you choose, my advice is to take advantage of every situation and opportunity to expand your network and build your reputation. It won't cost you anything, but it can pay you big money, and on many levels.
Benefits of networking
Many articles on the Internet will explain where, how and why to network. These are the advantages I have experienced through networking:
Let’s be honest: we network first and foremost to get new projects. So, it’s important to have more opportunities to talk about your business and distribute your business cards. However, business rarely ends at the first meeting. You will still have to contact your business contact again and propose a new meeting. For example, send them an e-mail to check in and make sure they remember you. Propose that you meet for coffee to continue the conversation.
Beyond the opportunity to generate business, networking offers you other benefits that usually pay off. For example, with my colleague, Sedat Adiyamann, I exchange services: I write press releases for Coworking Neuchâtel; in exchange, he gives me creative advice. With Samantha Oberholzer, native English copywriter and founder of SO Many Words, we write articles for each other’s blogs. Last February, she wrote an article about collaborations between writers and translators for Ceci-cela. Finally, I regularly collaborate with colleagues on large translation projects. With several translators involved, we have more chances of obtaining mandates too big for only one person.
For these exchanges to work, you must surround yourself with partners who have the same state of mind as you. That is, they do not see themselves as your competitors, but as allies who seek success by helping each other. There is strength in numbers!
Inbound marketing: give to receive
"Help yourself and heaven will help you," wrote Jean de la Fontaine. When it comes to networking, I would say, "Help others and others will help you.” During my 20 years of experience, I have found that by providing a service without compensation to my colleagues or members of my network, by correcting their brochure or translating a presentation, for example, I have opened the door to them. And this means that they, in turn, would not hesitate to help me out when I need their support.
At the same time, I also demonstrate my communication expertise. This approach, which consists of proving that you are capable of meeting a potential or expressed need of customers before they are even interested in you, is called “inbound marketing.”
In 2018, networking became a trendy activity. Sometimes it can be as simple as enjoying a drink in a pleasant setting with interesting people. For self-employed individuals, networking is a question of survival. Whether online or offline, networking offers many advantages: commercial, economic, intellectual, just to name a few. I would add that each new meeting is, above all, an exercise in personal enrichment.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Françoise Sauser is a French-speaking writer and translator. At the head of Ceci-cela Communication based in Neuchâtel, she writes and translates texts into French for large companies and several federal departments. Her copy is creative and powerful. Follow Françoise Sauser on LinkedIn.