One of the most valuable skills as a freelancer is maintaining relationships and making new ones. We have several articles about finding freelancing communities, but this article is going to focus on tactics to maintain and continue to grow relationships.
This is especially helpful for digital nomads who no longer have a specific home base and who are constantly changing location. The best time to build relationships is when you don't need anything from anyone. If you wait around to connect with people until you need something, it's harder to build a meaningful connection.
A primary concern that many people have is not wanting to be a nuisance or bother other people. One recommendation I have for people is to use their own personal authenticity as a 'North Star'. Connect with people in a way that feels authentic to you. One example of authenticity in practice is connecting with people to maintain relationships, share knowledge, and support each other. If you're consistently going into meetings to try and get something from people as the sole or main intention, it's going to be more challenging to build authentic connections. One final thing I'll mention on this topic is that people also understand the desire to ask for help. People want to help and also understand if you're asking for help. It's a balance.
Schedule Recurring Calendar Meetings
One tactic for easily maintaining relationships is to schedule a recurring calendar invite with people you'd like to stay connected with. This is a great set it and forget it, and ensures that you'll stay connected with people and it takes less energy in the ask and planning. It's easy to get consent from these people when you have the first meeting with them. You can simply say, "I really value our connection, and would love to connect with you on a more frequent basis. Would you be open to meeting with me (monthly, bimonthly, quarterly, etc) to catch up and share what's going on in our lives?"
From there, set a recurring google calendar invite, and you're good to go!
Sending Articles or Books You Come Across
Another authentic way to maintain relationships is to share articles or books you come across that you know someone will like. This is something that's really easy to do authentically, especially if you're often reading books and articles. Simply email your connection by saying 'Hey! I read this and thought you might enjoy it. If it interests you, I'd love to hear what you think. I hope you're doing well. Best, (your name)". It doesn't have to be more complicated than that but is an easy way to show you're thinking of someone and keep you in the back of their mind.
Set a Goal of One Reconnection per Month
Reaching out to past connections you haven't connected with in several years is another valuable tool for strengthening relationships. This can be old friends from college, past colleagues or bosses, or even friends of parents. It doesn't matter who it is, but if there's someone that you'd like to reconnect with for personal or professional emails, setting the goal to reach out to them is a great step. Most people are also looking for a connection and want opportunities to build more relationships. It's totally okay if you send an email and someone doesn't respond. Sending one or two follow-ups is a great way of showing your interest, and if there's no response after that it's probably worth finding someone else to connect with.
If you're currently working out of a coworking space there are many ways of building relationships internally. We've written an article to help you make friends at coworking spaces and build your network.
Social Media Engagement
I put this area last because I think there are many other ways that can be more impactful and meaningful, but I won't disregard the impact of social media. There are many people I stay in touch with solely because of Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. The simple act of engaging on people's posts through commenting or direct messaging can be a great way to rekindle connections. This can often happen organically, but setting an intention for using this as a tool can be a great way to more passively connecting with people. Once you've exchanged some messages or have a rapport, if you think it's valuable, you can schedule a coffee chat, in person or virtually.