My last post “Putting Your Sales Hunter Hat On”  was an introduction to how to sell your services as a freelancer–because no matter how good of a writer you are, you are still going to have to be at least a pretty decent salesperson if you want to keep yourself in work. This post continues that conversation by giving you information on how to find people who hire for freelance writing services.

This post is not about how to apply for $5 articles on O-desk or freelancer.com. It’s about how to get real work, and to do that, you have to be bold, personable, and determined.

Networking is essential to securing work as a freelancer. You have to be top-of-mind when there is either a need for a writer inside of a company, or when someone asks another person “Do you know a freelance writer?” In a city like Atlanta, it’s easy to find networking events. In fact, you could spend your entire week going from one event to the next, and you still might not secure work–if you don’t have a plan or you aren’t likable.

There’s nothing I can tell you to help you be more likable other than to read How to Win Friends and Influence People, so I’m going to stick to the first point: Have a plan.

First, decide what type of writer you want to be–other than employed. Rich and famous are great writer types as well, but I’m thinking of something more meaningful. As in, decide what your area of expertise will be. And 19th century French literature blogger is not going to cut it. You need a specialty, and it needs to be something people want to buy.

In Atlanta, some areas that are growing are: finance, technology, healthcare, telecom, and engineering. I’m sure there are several others, but those are just the ones that I know. You’ll need to think about your skills. Think about the types of writing you’ve done and samples you can produce. Think about what interests you and how you can use that interest to create passion for what you give your clients.

Then, research networking events in those areas. Meetup.com is filled with events, and you can search by industry. Scour LinkedIn for groups and start engaging with people in those groups. If you’re interested in technology, the Technology Association of Georgia has meetings for many different fields. You can also start your own group, and I can share some experiences doing just that in a later post.

Then, start signing up. If you are not working, I’d recommend you go to at least 3-4 each week. Get out there. If you are working, then set your goal at a minimum of 1 networking event each week. Keep in mind, this does not include online chat or comments in online groups. For you to get the fastest results, you have to meet people face-to-face.

But before you actually drive to the event, you need a couple of things:

1. Business cards. They don’t have to be expensive, but they do have to be professional. Make sure your business card tells what you do. If it’s a focus on producing content for telecom companies, then say that. Be specific.

2. Your elevator pitch. This is a MUST. You need to be able to tell people in 30 seconds or less what you do and what you want. Tell them how they can help you because people really will try to help you–if you just tell them how.

So, put yourself out there and make yourself known in the community. In my next post, I’ll cover how to hone your pitch, and get yourself in front of decision makers.