A freelance career in the creative arts
A freelance career in the creative arts

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

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

Timing: Allow about 25 minutes

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 in Activities 2 and 3 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] and 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:

  1. People you know or have met, e.g. family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, people you’ve met through hobbies and other life experiences.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Table 2 My personal and professional networks

Work life Personal life Distant connections Virtual connections
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Words: 0
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

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?

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Discussion

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.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371