I know one of your secrets.
You have chosen the freelance life because you actually hate facing people. Talking to people face-to-face makes you feel uncomfortable.
So you quit your 9-5 job simply because of that, and you don't want other people to know about it. Or else, they will tell you that it is a very stupid reason.
Well, I would say that your reason for quitting is okay; it doesn't have to be so noble a reason.
If you don't want to work in an office setting because you hate being in a crowd and socializing, I understand you.
Everyone of us have different personalities. Some are introverts and some are extroverts. And I don't blame you for that.
But if you are also a work at home individual like me, you'll soon realize that even if you're stuck to the four corners of your room, you still need to build your network, for you to get more clients and more work.
Of course, one of the best ways to build your network is to go outside your home and participate in conferences and seminars to meet like-minded individuals.
But socializing ain't your thing. So is there still hope for you to build your network without forcing yourself to attend conferences and seminars?
Actually there is... there are.
1. Connect with people on social media (and the better way to do it).
Since your goal is to find more clients for your freelance business through networking, then it's better to connect with people whom you are targeting.
For example, you're a freelance writer in the health niche, and you would like to have connections with someone on the health field.
For a more worthwhile and profitable networking experience, you can directly connect with people who can possibly give you the job such as CEOs, owners, founders, directors, EICs and content managers (for freelance writers), consultants, coaches, or mentors of a particular business.
Find where your target clients hang out such as Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, or even Google+ communities.
I find it easier to find the right connection on Facebook groups by doing this simple tactic:
a. Search relevant Facebook groups.
So let's go back to the example of finding clients on the health niche. I would search them using the keyword "health entrepreneurs" and filter the results under the "Groups" tab.
b. Take a peek at the group's members, then join.
Before joining the group, I would take a look at it's group members. I do this by clicking the group name and then the group member list at the right.
I'm doing this so that I could take a look at their profession (if they are publicly displayed) and usually, they are, since anyone running a business won't keep it secret and make it publicly available.
Once I confirmed that the group consists of my target clients, I will join the group.
You can also do this on LinkedIn groups but not on Google+ communities. And you'll undoubtedly find more professionals on LinkedIn there since it's the networking site for professionals. But I find it more comfortable doing my client research on Facebook.
c. Be active on the group, interact and help.
If you're already accepted on the group, try to interact with the group members through answering questions, commenting on their posts or even starting a new post for conversation.
That way, you can build a name for yourself in that group and everyone will know you.
d. Establish relationship, then personally connect.
Once you have already established a relationship among its group members, you can now send friend requests to those people whom you frequently have conversations with.
Then it's already up to you on how to foster your professional relationship with your network.
2. Comment on blogs with lots of people commenting.
Of course, the blog you should comment on should be relevant to your niche, or better yet, the blogs of industry leaders. But aside from that, prioritize commenting on blogs with lots of people commenting.
You don't want to just build connection with the blog owner, but to their readers (blog commenters) as well.
Say for example, it would be a very great move to regularly comment on Neil Patel's QuickSprout blog if your freelance business is on a digital marketing or content marketing niche.
QuickSprout's blog posts always have a lot of comments in it and if you leave a comment on Neil's blog, your name will get more exposure on the blog readers, not only on the blog owner.
You can also try replying to other people's comments to build relationships, but do it moderately. You don't want to be acting like you're the owner of the blog or something. Or you'll wait for the blog owner to answer the question of his reader first, then politely butt into the conversation and add something of value.
My friend even landed a writing gig after her comment was read by her now-client who's also a regular reader of the blog.
So if you are stuck on what blogs should you comment on, better comment on blogs with lots of comments in it. Killing two birds with one stone.
3. Get on Twitter and Instagram.
I used to devalue these two social media networks since there's so little that you can do compared to Facebook and LinkedIn.
But when I tried using them, it's actually fun. Through these networks, I am able to expand my LinkedIn connections because I was able to meet them through Twitter.
As for Instagram, this may be embarrassing but it's my first time using it yesterday yet it's so easy to build connections with.
So as you may attract the right connections on Twitter and Instagram, always use hashtags so that people can easily find you.
When you're on Twitter, do retweets, and when you're on Instagram, leave a comment on images of top Instagram personalities, media, etc. such as Forbes, Times, Hubspot, Huffington Post, and many more. Cos like in commenting on blogs, when you comment on other people's Insta posts, you get exposure for your name.
These methods of building a professional network may only be a few. But they are actually one of the best ways to connect with people without meeting them face to face.
How about you? What methods can you suggest to build the professional network of an introvert freelancer?