Finding networking events is easy when you work for a company that sets them up for you. And for those who have steady jobs, the appeal comes more from the open bars than the hobnobbing.
As a freelancer, however, you have to do all of the dirty work yourself. This can be daunting if you don’t have experience making your own business connections. Luckily, you have the Internet to help you out. We’ve outlined some useful places that feature meetups, webinars, and other events that give people who don’t work in an office a chance to interact with other humans.
Mediabistro hosts events all over the world that cover everything from social media skills to the business of Bitcoins. And a lot of their events are relevant for freelancers. For example, there is a list of conferences specifically for niche audiences, which can be a great way for creatives to meet people who have similar professional interests.
Side note: If you do have some extra money to spend, Mediabistro charges for online courses including screenwriting, TV news reporting, overcoming writer’s block, and more.
You might think of Eventbrite as the place to sign up for a 5K or a music festival. But have you ever used the handy search bar at the top of the homepage? After looking up freelance events in the NYC area, I quickly found a bunch of opportunities for networking. Power yoga with the Freelancers Union? Digital photography workshops? Sign this lady up. You can even filter by event type to focus only on networking meetups. On any given day, you’re definitely going to find multiple ways to meet people in your field. (We’re still waiting on the 5K freelance music festival.)
BNI (Business Network International) does more than post events—it’s an organization. According to their website, BNI is “the world’s largest business networking, referrals and word of mouth marketing organization.” It also sounds like a conglomerate from a dystopian film, but don’t let that scare you off.
The basic idea of BNI? If members meet someone who could hire you, they pass on your business card. Each member has everyone’s best interests in mind. This is perfect for freelancing, where contacts are the currency of opportunity.
BNI hosts events on a regular basis. To get access, all you need to do is join a chapter in your area.
There’s no better way to learn the ins and outs of the freelance industry than to commiserate with a bunch of fellow writers at a bar. Simply go to meetup.com, type “freelance” or “writers” in the search bar, set your location, and you’re good to go. For example, New York City has a freelance writers meetup that’s almost 600 people strong. Although, you might want to consider bringing a suitcase so you can haul away all the business cards you’ll get.
Facebook can be a huge time suck, but that’s only if you’re aimlessly scrolling your feed or posting a picture of what you had for lunch. As it turns out, the social network is the perfect place for freelance writers to chat. There are groups where people post everything from how much they’re paid to how they organize their workspaces. However, a lot of these groups are secret or invite only. Make sure to ask your freelancer friends to invite you to any pages if they happen to be members. And if you post pictures of the fancy sushi you just ate, odds are you’re getting blocked.