When you’re writing commercially, who are the most important people to know and how in the world do you actually meet them?
All too often, writers meet and network only with other writers. They go to writer workshops, call only other writers, and network only with writers, all hoping these writers will lead them to where the clients are. This is completely backwards. As a writer, you need to be getting to know non-writers.
Don’t get me wrong. You do need to know at least some writers in your area. Find a writing mentor, get some support, and a forum to bounce around ideas. But don’t limit yourself to just a writing circle, or it will become a circle of death for your business.
Instead, find all the other artists in your area: the graphic designers, video editors, photographers, etc. These people dislike writing, but all too often their clients come to them with a project and no writer, and if they want the project they have to do the writing themselves. That’s where you come in. Offer to take that inconvenient writing off their hands, and they’ll thank you profusely, and pay you generously, for a job well done. Then they’ll go out and tell their clients what a great job you did, and you become the go-to writer for the artist and the client. It’s a win-win for all three of you: the client gets a great package, the other artist can focus on what they love doing, and you get paid to do what you love!
The other group of people you need to rub shoulders with are the marketing directors. Or maybe they call themselves Creative Directors, Director of Communications, Marketing Managers…the name changes often but the essential function is the same – develop and execute the marketing strategy for their company or organization. These are the people with power to hire you.
The more you speak with them, meet them at functions, and raise your general visibility, the more trust they’ll have that your professional and can get the job done.
Cold-calling these people results in an average of 1 in 10 return calls. The chance of them hiring you is about 1 in 100. Meet these people face to face, and your chance of being hired jumps to 1 in 3! Develop even the briefest social relationship and you’re looking at 1 in 2 will hire you to do a project for them! This is a powerful technique for generating business and you can’t afford to miss it in today’s tough economy.
So where can you meet these people?
Look for them at networking functions. Join your local Chamber of Commerce and go to their events. Actually go to their workplace, and use their company. Go to library events, town meetings, and the opera. For some reason, lot’s of movers and shakers go to the theatre.
But remember, when you do meet them and you’ve struck up a conversation, don’t talk business! I can’t stress this enough! There’s nothing worse than getting to the end of a long week and then having to talk to some yappy writer who thinks he can help you. Get to know them first, and actually enjoy their company. If the subject of your work comes up (quite possible), mention your a freelance business writer and move on. There’s plenty of time later to capitalize on the fact that the two of you have already spoken. If they want to continue the conversation, that’s great! But they need to be the initiator, not you.
Track down the other business artists and the creative directors, and your in business. If you offer a solid product (your writing) and get to know these people personally, you’ll see a massive shift in the amount of business you bring in and your reputation in your working sphere.
Don’t limit yourself just to other writers. Branch out and get to know other people and professions.