5.1 Who do I already know?
If you take a moment to think about it, you might find that there are already several people within your wider network of contacts who could offer advice and support or put you in touch with someone who might be helpful to your freelance career plans.
Activity 5 Mapping my network
In this exercise, you’re going to focus on personal and professional networks that could help you to move forward with your plans.
Look back at the skills and knowledge gaps that you listed inand choose one area that you want to prioritise – you can repeat the exercise later if this proves to be useful. For example, you might choose marketing a small business.
Now start to consider any existing connections who have some knowledge of small business marketing and make a list, incorporating:
- People you know or have met, e.g. family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, people you’ve met through hobbies and other life experiences.
- People you are aware of but don’t know well or at all, e.g. friends of friends, colleagues from previous or current employment, or people who live on your street.
- People you are connected to virtually, e.g. follow on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
Depending on your preference, you could use the table below, draw a diagram or write a list.
Table 2 My personal and professional networks
|Work life||Personal life||Distant connections||Virtual connections|
When you’ve done this, look to see whether there are any gaps or areas where your contacts are sparse. How could you benefit from making new connections?
What conclusions did you draw? What are you going to do next?
If you found you didn’t have any existing connections, or there were gaps in your list, you can take various steps to build your networks:
- ask your close networks if they know anyone who has their own creative business
- look at your LinkedIn or Facebook contacts to see who they know or the groups they are members of – anything interesting?
- if you don’t have one, set up a LinkedIn account!
- investigate bloggers, trainers and other successful individuals in the areas that you want to focus on and follow them on social media
- scan key organisations’ websites and try to identify who is working in the roles or areas you are interested in. Could you email them and ask to meet them to learn more about their role and what they do? Or are the organisations you are interested in running any workshops, conferences or events that you could attend? This is a good way of meeting new people and building connections in the relevant industry or art form that you are targeting.
There are lots of people out there who would be happy to share their experiences and advice or even support you financially in your venture, but the responsibility to identify them is yours. Maximise your opportunities to help yourself by finding out who they are and approaching them in an appropriate way. You’ll explore networking in more detail in Week 5.