Feeling proactive, empowered and confident? You bet! Quick reflections on the 2017 Museum Freelance networking event

Many of us never seem to find time to think strategically about where we are now, and where we want to be (in a business sense of course). We’re so busy applying for projects, delivering projects, meeting clients’ needs and keeping on top of admin that we forget to look around and ahead.

As I rapidly approach my 10th year as a freelancer, attending this new event felt rather timely. Devised and organised by the Museum Freelance Network (led by Christina Lister and Laura Crossley), around 50 delegates met at the London Canal Museum on 13 March 2017 for a day of networking, inspiring talks and practical action planning. The focus was ‘how to be an empowered and confident freelancer’ and it didn’t disappoint.

Before the crowds arrive: London Canal Museum

My top 10 key takeaways

  1. Make more of an effort to get involved with regional and national initiatives, like IPSE’s National Freelancers Day (8 June 2017) and make the most of opportunities including the Women’s Freelancing Network.
  2. Proactively share your feedback and experiences with IPSE and the Museums Association (MA). They want our views to understand the challenges/opportunities that exist for museum freelancers. It was fantastic to hear that the MA have our backs: the important role that freelancers play in the sector is starting to be recognised. Watch this space in terms of news and support (thanks Tamsin!)
  3. Read the Character Matters report (Arts Council England, 2016). It found that freelancers are more motivated to achieve results, more likely to take risks, more optimistic, and they’ve a greater belief in self-efficacy. Not sure how this one slipped my reading net, but it sounds interesting.
  4. Beware of imposter syndrome! People return to you for a reason — don’t forget that. Fake confidence (but don’t fake expertise.)
  5. Open your eyes. Allocate time to attend networking events each month. Look outside the sector to opportunities in your area: be more visible, get connected. Those in other industries can open up new contacts and routes into your own field of work.
  6. Be choosy. Which networking events will give you access to the types of people you’re interested in meeting? And wear your name badge on your right hand side (it makes for easier introductions!)
  7. Monitor your time. Use online/apps like toggl. Block dedicated hours in your diary to catch up on social comms/research papers and stick to it (easier said than done, but I’m going to try!)
  8. Make the most of being flexible and find the right work/life balance for you — whether that’s when you do your work, where you do your work or how you structure your work (although there’s still a big question here about managing expectation of our clients and our availability during their core hours.)
  9. Stuck in a rut? Think: what drives your job satisfaction? Know why and what you’re trying to achieve. Why did you start out doing what you do? Don’t lose focus of what motivated you in the first place.
  10. Put time aside each year to consider your vision, goals, challenges, skills gaps and priorities. Put budget aside for CPD. Make a plan.

Join the LinkedIn Museum Freelancers Network group to find out more about future events, and to join in the conversation. You can also check out specific content and links from the event on Storify.

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Keynote speakers

Lydia Wakefield (IPSE)

Helen Wilkinson (AIM)

Joanna Gaudoin (Inside Out Image)

Anna Lundberg (One Step Outside)

Tamsin Russell (Museums Association)

(Plus a big thank you to our Lightning Talk volunteer speakers: Dana, Hamish, Alex, Padmini and Charlotte).

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