How Sending a Simple "Hello" E-Mail Led to a Speaking Invitation in Australia
Imagine someone, who just found your website hours earlier, asking you to give a live webinar to members of his business-building group. Then imagine him asking you to give a different presentation to his group in person … in Australia.
That's the position I found myself in a few months ago sitting in my home office in Washington State.
How all this happened may seem a bit lucky, especially because I didn't seek out these opportunities.
But when you stretch yourself and believe that you have something to offer, you'll start attracting opportunities that will help you grow your business.
First, let me tell you how it came about. As I tell the story, see if you can pick out the little things that helped put me in this position.
I have a blog on my site (http://www.magalogguy.com) where I speak directly to prospects and clients about marketing and how they can boost sales.
It occurred to me that, at a certain point, newcomers wouldn't want to go through all the past articles. So I put the best ones in an eBook and offered it to anyone who wanted it, as long as they gave me their name and e-mail address.
An author and entrepreneur in Australia stumbled across my site and signed up for the free book. My family was actually planning a vacation to Australia next year. Seeing that the person who just grabbed my book had an e-mail address from Australia, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to say a personal, non-business, hello.
He quickly responded to my e-mail, and later that day he called on the phone. We talked about our families … we talked about business.
By the end of the call, I had agreed to an invitation to give a webinar about magalog marketing to members of his business group. Weeks later, before I gave the webinar, he had contacted me again suggesting that since we were coming to Australia anyway, we might as well time it to coincide with one of his quarterly weekend business conferences where I could speak to his members. I accepted, and in April of next year I'll be one of a number of speakers helping other people market their businesses more effectively.
So … did you see anything in my story you could apply to your freelance business? Some things are probably pretty obvious, but some aren't. Let's take a look.
- Leverage a blog. A blog gives prospects continued reasons to visit your site even if they don't need your services right now. It also raises your ranking with search engines because you're talking about different topics and not just depending on a static sales page. But the value doesn't stop there. The content can eventually be packaged into a free (or paid) eBook. Which leads us to …
- Re-purpose your content. An eBook, or some other packaging of your blog content, creates the perception that you're more than just someone who threw up a website and a couple of portfolio pieces. And after reading your eBook, perception turns into reality that you know what you're talking about. You have more opportunities to close the sale when you're seen as credible and trustworthy. Beyond that, why let good content go to waste? Older blog content tends to be "out of sight, out of mind." Bring that content back to life in a new format. In my case, my content has gone into an eBook, multiple special reports, an iTunes podcast and more.
- Collect names and e-mail addresses. I don't like to feel like I'm bothering people with follow-up messages. But the fact is, the most successful marketers and freelancers stay in touch with people who have shown an interest in what they do. Most of the freebies on my site don't require anyone to give their name and e-mail address. But the eBook does. That gives me a chance to continue to reach them with new articles that can help them in their marketing, whether they hire me or not. And when you truly believe that you have something of value to offer, you actually get over thinking you're bothering people.
- Relate to people on a personal level. While I have an automated response setup for anyone who gets my book, I sent a personal hello to this Australian entrepreneur because, not only was he in a place we were planning to visit, but a quick look at his site showed me we had things in common. When I contacted him, it wasn't to sell him my services. It was simply a sincere desire to talk about similar interests. That's a part of what social media is about these days. So many people are in constant sell-mode. But really reaching and connecting with people happens when you're speaking casually about what's important to them or about things you have in common.
- Say Yes now, figure out the details later. I admit, this is a bold step. And a quote from Dorothea Brande comes to mind that helps me overcome any hesitation of doing something outside my comfort zone: "Act boldly and unseen forces will come to your aid." I've never given a webinar and I certainly didn't have anything prepared related to my business. I had to put it together from scratch. The bonus here is that the webinar became the basis for a more generic version that I can use as another method to attract new clients. I could have sat around and worried about whether I could pull it off. That's just self-doubt trying to keep you in your comfort zone. Seth Godin refers to it as your lizard brain. Resist it.
- Be more than "just" a copywriter or designer. It's interesting to note that while I'm primarily known as a freelancer designer, my presentation in Australia next year will have nothing to do with design. (And that presentation has also forced me to follow my own advice from point #5.) One of the amazing joys of freelancing is the ability to learn new things and apply them to your business. You control what you want to do with your career and what direction (and side trips) you want to take. Over time, I've just naturally picked up knowledge about marketing and other aspects of the direct marketing world while working on client projects. It's that knowledge that has help put me in this position of accepting a speaking invitation in another country, or anywhere else for that matter.
Bonus: As you look at these six points, note that none of them cost you any money.
Tip: When I first cracked open an AWAI program in 2003, I didn't know a thing about copywriting, design or marketing. But I made a quest for useful knowledge a mission of my freelance business. I encourage you to do the same.
Today I'm much more attuned to new possibilities that help me grow on a personal level while also helping to grow my business.
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