The world looks very different today than it did thirty years ago, and a lot of the differences can be attributed to one simple change: The introduction of the Internet, which enables businesses, magazines, and other publications to accept pieces from freelance writers all around the globe without having to ever have a face-to-face conversation. While this comes with obvious advantages, it also presents one significant problem: Today’s crop of freelance writers are forgetting how to sell their work and their services in person.
Few of us have issues when we’re sitting behind a computer screen with hours to craft an email. But, put us face-to-face, right in front of the same person, and we freeze. In this piece, I’ll go into how I used the power of upfront, face-to-face communication (the kind that many of us have forgotten) to land a four-figure gig at a networking conference.
Attending the Conference
The conference I’m speaking of was a local small-business meet-up in my area, with a focus towards connecting college student entrepreneurs (the category I fall into) with senior, experienced business leaders. Most freelance writers may not see this kind of conference as one with solid selling potential. However, given my transition from a solo freelance operation to an agency-style business (as I discussed in a previous piece), it made perfect sense for me and the clientele I target.
Lastly, and this ought to go without saying, but presentation here really is everything. I dressed sharp, and did my best to look extremely well put-together. Professionalism and friendliness are the keys to success at any conference.
Making the Sale
The particular conversation that led to this gig resulted from a conversation I began by simply introducing myself to one of the speakers, and thanking him for his presentation. As we both shared our backgrounds and ventures, he asked me more about the results I had been able to produce for previous clientele, in terms of viewership and engagement on the online pieces I’d published. I was prepared with several statistics and satisfied client stories ready to go. By the end of our conversation, we were talking budget, and how many pieces I could deliver monthly.
Closing the Deal
Last but not least came the most important part: Following up. Until you’ve got the contract signed, sealed, and committed, then nothing’s truly been accomplished. I made sure to follow up as soon as I got home from the conference. By the next week, we had completed a Skype call to finalize details for a contract, and the contract was signed within the next couple days.
At the end of the day, the human race is a social species. Most of us starve for regular, in-person social interaction. The power of a face-to-face conversation goes far beyond anything that you could ever replicate in an email.
As a freelance writer, this power is yours to leverage when generating more business. Get out there for some face-to-face interactions and do what I did a few months ago. You, too, might just land your next four-figure client!
- Networking and “Subtle Promotion” on LinkedIn! By Elizabeth Armenta (WriterLiz, LLC)
- Networking Techniques That Work Fast and Pay Off Big! By David Geer
- Learn to Network — and Double or Triple Your Sales! By Bob Freiday, author of 10 Golden Rules of Freelance Writing and How I Broke Them (How to Break the Rules and Make It as a Magazine Writer)
- Warm and Fuzzy Networking Can Lead to Paying Writing Assignments! by Haneef Davenport
- A Local BBQ Leads To Freelance Work! Social Networking The Old Fashioned Way… By Rachel Gerner
Jonathan Rebby John is a freelance writer and a student mechanical engineer at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. An experienced content marketing strategist and WordPress maestro, his work has been published in many of the top blogs in those fields, including Problogger, Marketo, Torque, and WP Lift. Get in touch with him through his website, or connect on LinkedIn.
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