Networking is the lifeblood of freelancers, whether you are a copywriter, graphic designer, or anything else that involves squeezing out the creative juices on a daily basis. Twitters groups, Meetup groups, organised events/conferences; these are all chances to mingle with fellow freelancers, exchange ideas, and maybe even give each other a bit of extra work. Below are a few of the social media networks and real-life events that a freelance creative can use to put his/her name out there and maybe even make some buddies.
While a couple of decades ago networking may have all been done in person, today the situation is very different. The fast emergence of social media sites has completely changed the landscape of networking as we know it, and I have started here with Twitter because, quite simply, it is deemed by most freelancers to be the most effective networking and promotional tool on the wild, wacky, web.
The most popular social network after Facebook, Twitter, as a product of social media evolution, is perfectly suited to the networking environment. It allows you to follow hundreds of people from similar fields and to indirectly interact by retweeting/liking/favouriting people’s tweets. Add to this the ability to link to articles and the automatic messages which can be sent when someone follows your account, and Twitter truly is the ongoing modern-day networking event that you needn’t even get dressed to attend.
Before moving on to some of the real-world networking events it is a good idea to get the online domains out of the way first, particularly since they are, by far, the most favoured networking avenues. Behind Twitter, LinkedIn is probably the most useful networking tool; in fact, many prefer this site, especially given the fact that there are no pretences. LinkedIn has no crossover with the social aspects that run through so many networking sites; people are here to promote themselves and to connect with people who might throw business their way in the future. Simple as that.
One advantage LinkedIn has over Twitter is its capacity to house a detailed breakdown of all users’ credentials. If you are a LinkedIn user you can write a summary of your experience and skills, while your CV can also be viewed at the click of a button. In addition to this, and much like Twitter, links can be posted to blog articles or other kinds of content.
This is primarily a social platform aimed at bringing together people with similar interests. However, it turns out that freelancing is, not surprisingly, an interest that many share. I went to a few of these when I lived in London and it’s a great way to meet fellow creatives. Much less formal than organised events where there is more pressure to make the most of your £300 + ticket and get down to business. I conducted a brief search for groups in London and found Stoke Newington Freelancers, The London Contractor, and Independent Professionals London.
The Copywriting Conference from the Professional Copywriters’ Network
If you are tempted to leave the comfort of your home and enter the real-life networking realm, then the Copywriting Conference is the place to do it. Without doubt the UK’s biggest gathering of copywriters, this event, organised by the Professional Copywriters’ Network, is packed out with creative professionals and educational opportunities. Industry leaders guide attendees through the psychological aspects of copywriting as well as the importance of tone and social media presence.
For the past three years the gathering has been held at Haberdashers’ Hall, but in October 2016 it will head to its new home at London’s The Crystal. In addition to the scores of industry experts on hand to guide you through the ins and outs of writing and promotion, there are also workshops and Q&As. A standard delegate ticket can be purchased for £345 + vat (includes lunch and refreshments), while members of the Professional Copywriters’ Network receive a £100 discount. When you take a look at past speakers, including the likes of renowned ad man Dave Trott, columnist Graeme Archer, and marketing magician Dee Blick, the price tag seems pretty reasonable.
Copywriting for conferences and events
Housed in etc.venues amidst the enchanting streets of London’s Marble Arch, this is a pricey (£595 with VAT on top) yet extensive copywriting course which, in addition to lectures from industry experts, also presents copywriters with a chance to network. While the focus is more on learning, events such as these are always a good place to strike up relationships which may be beneficial down the line.
The Great British Business Show
The Great British Business Show is completely free, and welcomes over 25,000 small businesses to London’s ExCel over a two-day period (this year it takes place on 11 & 12 May). For a copywriter, graphic designer, or social media expert, this type of conference is far more likely to yield fruitful relationships and business opportunities. Put aside the fact that many of these small businesses might not yet have the content for their websites, but once they start promoting their new site, they will most likely need constant content, whether this be in the form of blog posts or social media content. He/she who dares, and is most charming, wins.
Conclusion type thing
There is certainly a degree of hatred when it comes to networking events; people, quite rightly, feel uncomfortable walking into rooms full of complete strangers who are, in essence, there to sell. The reality seems to be that, while networking events are a good way to meet interesting people in a similar field to yourself, there is not much chance you will get work as a result, not immediately anyway. My strolls around the web have led me to the conclusion that, particularly for copywriters, it is better to attend events aimed at various web professionals or events catering to start-ups. Strike up a conversation with web designers and people who have just started their own company, and odds are you will eventually happen upon someone who requires some sharp, snappy copy.