I’m terrible at networking.
I don’t utilize social media to promote my business nearly a fraction of the amount I should. I follow many other blogs, but do not often connect in commenting. On my own blog I don’t end my rants, reviews, and reasoning with questions to engage my audience. For goodness sake, this entry was started over three weeks ago, which is an indication of how often I get around to posting. WordPress tells me I have 78 followers, my email reminder goes out to 152 subscribers, but I am terrible about interacting with any of you wonderful people on a regular basis. The invites to partake in round-ups, challenges and topics are appreciated and it is exciting to watch other bloggers participate, but I am rotten about doing so myself. (Please don’t stop sending them, though!)
On the other hand, I will excessively promote another author or artist if I believe in their work. Many late nights are spent editing blog posts and research papers for friends and family, at no charge, because I support their success. I can brainstorm suggestions and ideas for any project not my own. I am a part of several “think tank” boards for local non-profits. Perhaps I should have been a manager or agent for the talents of others?
So what can I do to effectively meet people who will potentially become clients or who will eventually be the connections I need to expand my business?
The obvious way to be successful in the freelance world is to put yourself out there.
After many years, I finally had business cards printed, and yes… this has helped tremendously. Funny how people can get in touch with you when they have a tiny rectangle of cardstock to hold on to rather than trying to remember what you were shouting over the noise at a crowded event. I’ve discovered that even recording information in your mobile device is less effective than good old-fashioned business cards.
Attending events supporting the vibrant literary community here in the Twin Cities is a great way to connect. I meet wonderful, talented people. But I also have two wonderful, talented children at home who need to be taxied from school to sports practices to social engagements. They take up the majority of my time, and I wouldn’t trade any of it for all the networking opportunities in the world. Naturally, I end up missing out on a great deal of face-to-face meetings.
Ah, 21st century interwebunets, how you easily take me down so many paths, leading me farther and farther from my blog, Twitter, WAEN, only to end up in the back alleys of Facebook, Pinterest, The Huffington Post, and Cracked.com. Between my real life and my computer life, I realize I’m only teetering on the edge of effective networking at best.
Sometimes I have to remind myself, “Michelle, you get to do this as a JOB! You get to READ as WORK!” To maintain this honor it is important that I make my services and my connections valuable. I’ll be honest; there was one client with whom I was not on the “same page”. Considering the horror stories I’ve heard from colleagues in the publishing industry, I consider that a small bump in the road and a lesson learned. The rest of my interactions have been productive and successful. It is essential that I do everything in my power to make writers and researchers happier with their work then when they first entrusted it to me. If this means I need to revisit an edit, I will do it. If this means I need to work with an author through repeat revisions, that’s fine.
My best networking is the word-of-mouth promotions by my dear clients and I’ve been privileged to work with some great talents who have in turn been happy with my work. My hope is to continue providing a solid service to these and future clients.
Now, I must gather up some of those business cards and venture out!
I am going to a real-life,