How to Use Your Copywriting Skills to Build Better Relationships

I’m a relatively new copywriter – one of many who credit our success to what we’ve learned through AWAI. I’m often asked by AWAI members how I hit certain milestones …

– How did I land my first client?

– How did I manage to hit six figures in a little over two years?

– How did I make my way so early in my career to such desirable clients as Nightingale-Conant and Agora?

There’s a common thread to every success I’ve enjoyed – and it isn’t necessarily the caliber of my writing.

It’s the strength of the relationships I’ve built: friendships, mentors, casual conversations, introductions during Bootcamp. These have all added up to something I now recognize as “networking.”

Of course, if you’d asked me three years ago if I was any good at networking, I would have told you I was terrible at it. I don’t do small talk well. I’m terrible at remembering people’s names. And when I’m uncomfortable, I tend to put my foot in my mouth … deep and often.

But then I met Ilise Benun at Bootcamp. She helped me realize that there’s another whole level to networking that goes beyond schmoozing and exchanging business cards. It has to do with building authentic relationships.

I became so convinced that this is an important career-building skill for any copywriter that I teamed up with Ilise to deliver a session at last year’s Bootcamp called “Beyond Networking.”

And here’s what we realized while preparing for that session:

“All the skills you’ve learned in becoming a copywriter can also help you become highly effective at networking.”

Transfer those skills from the page to your daily interactions with people, and your business – and your income – starts to double and triple before your eyes. Mine did.

Here are the top three skills every new copywriter needs to excel in – and how you can benefit from putting them to work in your professional relationships:


    When you’re writing about a health supplement, you think of ways your product helps solve your prospects’ problems and improve their lives. You’re not thinking about how that prospect can help you … but how you can help them, right?

    That’s exactly what you’ll do when you’re making new contacts and building new relationships.

    You’ll need all different kinds of contacts in your Rolodex: Mentors. Peers who are working at the same level you are and who have similar aspirations. Marketing directors and other people who know the industry. Major mailers who could one day become clients.

    Every single one of these contacts has a unique set of problems, challenges and needs. Before you think about what they can do to further your career, ask yourself: How can I help these people reach their goals?


    Paul Hollingshead has built his career around an uncanny ability to invoke intimacy in his copy. One of the cornerstones of this technique is showing the prospect that you truly care about his worries, needs, and wants. You connect in meaningful ways. You build trust and create rapport.

    When making new contacts, don’t try to impress them. Simply get to know them. Talk to them like you would talk to the guy on the barstool next to you … not like someone you hope will call you with a $5,000 project!


    Whenever possible, research contacts before meeting them. You’ll find that most meetings – especially with people in positions of influence or power – will go more smoothly with advance preparation.

    I recently interviewed Marty Edelston, the founder of Boardroom. I was intimidated by the thought of meeting with such a legend. So, to relieve my anxiety, I did some advance research. I came across other interviews he’d done and got a sense of his style. I learned about the history of his company, his accomplishments, and some of what was important to him. As a result, I felt much more confident sitting with him and his team of top managers (people I hope will want to hire me one day!). That confidence helped me do a successful interview.

Right now, you’re working on honing your writing skills. On you’re way to becoming a great copywriter, you’ll first be an eager student … and then maybe a competent writer … and then, maybe even someone who looks promising – a master-in-the-making.

There are clients who will work with you at every stage in your development. You just have to introduce yourself, let them know you’re willing to learn, establish an authentic relationship with them, and follow it up.

That is effective networking at its best.

[Ed. Note: Monica Day, a member of AWAI, became a six-figure copywriter less than three years after first taking the Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting. Today, she works for Agora Publishing, Nightingale-Conant, and a number of other top direct-response clients. She also has an e-letter that she writes together with another successful AWAI member, Krista Jones, called The Copy Protégé (]

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The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: April 3, 2006

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