We've Got to Start Meeting Like This …
John Wood here for The Writer's Life.
Some (not all) who choose a freelance writing career can be accused of being a little introverted …
They are happiest when sitting alone in a room with their thoughts working on their latest masterpiece.
And while this is all fine and good, there are times when it's necessary to get out of your comfort zone and start actively networking with people in order to keep the paying assignments flowing.
If you could use a bit of help in this area – or if you just could use some tips for landing new clients – I've put together a list of networking tactics you can use.
- Take advantage of your local chamber of commerce – The chamber of commerce in your area most likely stages ongoing events where you can meet other local business people. Most chambers have a core group of regulars who will introduce you to people and make it easier for you to network.
- Become a member of a business networking association – The three largest of these organizations are: Ali Lassen's Lead Club, LeTip International, and Business Networking International (BNI. In his book Endless Referrals, Bob Burg says that BNI has generated more than 3 million leads (or over $1 billion in revenue) for its participants. The purpose of these groups is for members to introduce other members to leads for their business – this way, you are never in a "cold-call situation."
- Join an association related to your niche – Depending on your niche, chances are there is an association that's been set up to represent and assist its members. They're often a good source of information on how to get new business and can provide you with a list of potential clients with addresses, contact names, and positions. For writers, there is AWAI's Professional Writers' Alliance. If you're a grant writer, you might want to join the American Grant Writers' Association. If you're a woman, you might want to check out the National Association of Women Business Owners.
Go to conferences, exhibitions, and product launches – It makes sense to go where your target audience will be. Always be on the lookout for events the target the same people you target. Even if you attend one or two a year, it could have a significant impact on your contact list. If you're looking to work for Internet marketers, you might want to attend a conference geared towards Internet marketers and so on.
And, of course, AWAI has their annual event for copywriters. For information about how the 2012 Bootcamp and Job Fair will not only benefit your writing career, but also get you networking with the people in the copywriting industry who can give your career a huge boost, click here.
- Take training courses – Aside from increasing your expertise in a specific area, training courses are a good way to meet potential clients and/or people who will refer you to potential clients. For instance, if you're a web writer, you might want to take an online graphic design course so you can offer your clients some guidance when it comes to website design. But the real boon might be in the contacts you make with graphic designers. Generally, their clients will also be hungry for good writers. So if you form a good relationship with a busy graphic designer, it could result in a steady source of new business for you.
- Use Meetup.com – A quick and easy way to find local business events in your area, you can use Meetup.com to find both business and entertainment events. Simply type "copywriting," "writing," "networking" (or whatever interests you) in the "Topic or Interest" box, insert your zip or postal code, press the search button, and you'll have a list of groups in your area that are available to join.
- Join a speed networking group – The concept of speed networking is based on the concept of speed dating. You need to have your elevator pitch down pat (for tips on how to craft a winning elevator pitch, check out Rebecca Matter's article “Tell Me Your Elevator Speech”) and a stack of professional-looking business cards. They advertise that you can get more contacts in one night than most people make in a month. Google "speed networking" to find a group in your area.
- Participate in online communities – Exchanging ideas and making contact with people online is a convenient and easy way to gain new contacts. In as little as 15 minutes a day, you can actively participate in LinkedIn groups and discussions on other business-related sites. This is a great way to quickly raise your profile within your industry. Participate in message board discussions, comment on blog posts, and keep active on Facebook. It only takes one good contact to make it all worthwhile.
- Join community service clubs – If you've been meaning to help out in the community, a good way to do so is join the local Rotary, Lions or Kiwanis Club. You might even want to serve on one of their committees. It's not a venue to actively promote the services you offer, but it's still a good place to meet the movers and shakers in your community who could one day play a role in boosting up your business.
Tomorrow, I'm going to give you eight networking tips that will help you connect with people even if you're introverted and not the "life of the party," so to speak.
Have you had any success networking using some of the above options? If so, what has worked particularly well for you? Please leave your comments here.
Having been to six AWAI Bootcamps so far, I highly recommend attending this year, no matter what stage you're at in your writing career. Don't delay as you risk missing out on AWAI's "early bird" FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp and Job Fair special. Click here now for more information.
It's a great place to meet and network with people who have the same goals and ambitions as you do – many of whom can also help you move your career forward.
The Professional Writers’ Alliance
At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »