Networking sets expectations, whereas socializing builds trust and familiarity. There is a right time for both, but when you mix the two, it can work to your disadvantage.
Having the ability to delineate social talk and business talk is an incredibly important skill to have. People innately want to connect with other people. We are a social species and whether we admit it or not, we value interpersonal connections more than anything.
If you find yourself in a social setting with a prospect, don’t oversell yourself and turn it into an interview. Instead, take the time to socialize. At the end of the conversation, make it a point to exchange contact information and then send them a follow up email the next day.
Freelancing is a competitive marketplace, and you’re often going to find yourself up against well-qualified people with similar backgrounds. Focusing all of your energy into wowing your prospects with a flashy portfolio, a polished resume, and an impressive list of questions may not be enough to earn their trust.
Focus on trust-building and building prospects through social channels, and you just might find yourself with an advantage over the rest of your competition when opportunities arise.