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Freelance Business Night comes to Brussels

16:56 08/10/2018
Remember Freelance Business Day back in April? Now a full-fledged organisation will host a raft of related events in the capital

The feedback from last spring’s Freelance Business Day in Brussels was so strong that the organisers decided to launch an organisation dedicated to helping people be successful freelancers and entrepreneurs. While the Freelance Business Day Facebook group is already up, the first event is just around the corner: Freelance Business Night.

Freelance Business Day was dedicated to helping people boost their skills in finding work, selling themselves, social media, networking and a number of other issues related to self-employment. There will be another such event next April, but until then, the newly founded Freelance Business Day organisation will host a number of specially designed networking events.

“We surveyed the participants of Freelance Business Day and asked what their favourite part of the event was,” says Jenny Björklöf, co-founder of the organisation. “Nearly all of them said networking, which is why we’re now going to host networking events.”

It might seem strange that that would be the stand-out option at an event that had a number of experts presenting seminars with valuable information. But what freelancers found is that meeting other freelancers generated work.

“There were a lot of freelancers in the room from different sectors, and they found each other,” explains Björklöf. “So say you’re a mindfulness teacher, and you need a website designer. The website designer walks out with a contact. You build up trust at these events because you’ve met each other face to face.”

Freelancer working at home

Although the event – and all events organised by Freelance Business Day – are in English, organisers found that half the participants at its launch event were Belgians. Aside from not having an event like this in local language, Björklöf thinks they appreciate the international aspect of it all.

“Belgians come to an English-speaking event because it’s more open-minded and internationally minded, and they like to meet people from different cultures,” she says. “It’s a bit like traveling in our own country.”

Freelance Business Night, meanwhile, which takes place over several hours on the evening of 19 October, will get freelancers talking to each other. People who register will get an email from the Belgian-based platform Conversation Starter. They can create a profile and say exactly what kind of people they are interested in meeting or what topics they are interested in discussing.

This provides a structure for the networking event. “So even before the event, you know who you’re going to meet and what you’re going to talk about,” explains Björklöf. “It’s about matching people.”

Freelance Business Day is also planning an event in January for entrepreneurs who want to start a business but haven’t yet. In terms of all those phrases – self-employed, freelance and entrepreneur – Björklöf points out that the second two are merely subsets of the first. While both are examples of self-employment, “freelancers are independent professionals who provide services to businesses as a contractor, while entrepreneurs create something out of nothing. So if I do social media for someone else’s business, I’m a freelancer. If I organise freelance business events, I’m an entrepreneur.”

You’ve become a freelancer! Now what?

And either group could learn a lot from Freelance Business Day. While the January event will tackle how to start a business, the others are really about how to be successfully self-employed.

“ING, for example, has an event on starting your own business in English, and it’s really good, but it’s about the administration,” says Björklöf. “There are also a lot of events for start-ups and a lot of support for tech businesses and scalable businesses. But there are so many people interested in starting their own thing, to have a job where they feel they have purpose and can do what they love to do. So we want to help them with the skills they need to do that, like sales and marketing, confidence building, and connecting them with the right sources. Not how to start, necessarily, but how to do it well.”

She also wants to help those considering freelancing feel less worried about the risk. “If you’re good at it, there’s less risk than being employed because if you are employed, you can be out from one day to the next. And then you’re in trouble. Whereas if you’re a freelancer, you can quickly shift to the next project.”

And she’s convinced that this is not only useful but crucial in the 21st century. “I don’t think that our social security system will last,” she says matter-of-factly. “I don’t think we’re all going to get a pension. So my recommendation is to do a job that you love doing and that you can do beyond retirement.”

Freelance Business Night, 19 October 17.00-22.00, Benelux, 6 petite Rue des Bouchers, Brussels. Advance registration is required

Photo: Jenny Björklöf and Elina Jutelyte, co-founders of Freelance Business Day

Written by The Bulletin