We’ve all heard the ole “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” And I have to say, it is definitely true to an extent. But when you’re self-employed, it can be especially hard to make connections with colleagues. After all, you’re not in an office every day, there aren’t mixers and events on a regular basis, and you probably don’t even have time to go out and meet people when you’re running a business or blog on your own. But the truth is, great content takes more than one person to create it. Whether it’s through inspiring friends, talented photographers, or pr reps, a quality professional circle will only elevate you in your field.
I have a few favorite ways to connect with fellow creatives. First of all is the easiest: social media. I can’t even tell you how many people I have met through Instagram. Some of my closest friends and almost all of my blogger relationships came to be thanks to Instagram. It’s a great way to connect with potential collaborators as well since right off the bat you’re able to get a pretty good idea of their style and aesthetic. This is particularly handy when it comes to photographers. When I go on trips, I always find my photographers through Instagram. LinkedIn is awesome for connecting with digital marketing professionals.
Once you find fellow bloggers or creatives through social media or their blogs, sending a friendly email can take things to the next level. If you’ve never done it before, you might be surprised by how often people connect this way. It’s how I’ve met almost everyone I know in Atlanta and industry professionals in other cities and even countries. A simple invite for coffee or drinks can be the start of a new partnership, content inspiration or an awesome friendship.
Another great way to grow your professional circle is to attend events. Most bloggers get invited to events on a regular basis (if you don’t, reach out to local PR firms and ask to be added to their lists!). As a blogger or self-employed creative, you often don’t even meet the people you work with in person. Events really mix it up and open up a chance to connect on a different level than emails and social media. But since each event will have different attendees, it’s really important to follow up with people to continue the conversation and grow the relationship.
When meeting new people to potentially grow your professional circle, there’s one thing that is very important to keep in mind: be genuine! Don’t just connect with someone for your own gain. A professional relationship is just like any other: it should be mutually beneficial as well as honest and real.
How do you grow your professional circle? What tips would you add to the list?
Photos by J. Nelly Photography & Johnny Cheng.