Unmuted by the Pandemic

Young woman on a laptop video call with a female client

It’s been more than a year since things changed radically for everyone everywhere.

Although the experience was different for each of us, the common denominator is that almost all of our interactions with clients, prospects, and colleagues have gone from IRL (in real life) to virtual.

And that’s still true, even as some areas start to cautiously open up.

Yes, of course, we will venture back out into the world — and soon, I hope. We will once again attend in-person meetings and conferences. (Crossing my fingers for Bootcamp — see you there?)

However, I don’t think we’re going “back” to the way it was. If I had to predict, I would say the future will be a hybrid one.

So that raises an important question: Does the virtual environment make it easier or harder to connect and build relationships? And how does that affect our self-confidence?

I can only share what I have observed, and I must say it has surprised me.

Many, if not most, of the copywriters and other creative professionals I work with categorize themselves as “introverts” and therefore struggle when it comes to meeting people.

But since we’ve gone virtual, many of these people have actually gotten better at networking.

Pre-pandemic, they were generally shy and reluctant to talk about themselves in face-to-face conversations, making the networking aspect of building a business near impossible.

However, the pandemic has had a surprisingly (especially to themselves) positive effect!

In fact, a few of the hard-core introverts have actually become networking mavens. I barely recognize them. It’s like they’ve “unmuted” themselves.

If I had to guess why, I suspect it has to do with the Zoom screen.

Although the screen feels like a barrier to some, for introverts it seems to have created a buffer of sorts, allowing them to feel less vulnerable than in person and enabling them to let their defenses down a bit and reveal more of themselves.

Zoom also has something no real live conversation has — the chat box!

I know it’s sometimes hard to split your attention between the conversation on the screen and the simultaneous chat, but it may be worth practicing.

You see, the chat allows you to jump into a conversation without actually interrupting. You’d never interject a comment while someone is talking (I hope), but with the chat box, it’s like putting a wedge in the door to open it a bit so you can go in later, when the time is right.

LinkedIn is another tool that has made networking easier for many people during the pandemic.

When the world shut down, a lot of business activities simply went online. And much of it went to LinkedIn, the social media platform for business professionals.

When we could no longer attend an event, we started chatting and posting on LinkedIn.

What had for years been a sleepy social media platform, (it was even pigeonholed by some as the “job posting site”) became, almost overnight, the premier networking site for business professionals.

Why? I think it’s because everyone was already there. Most of us already had a profile, even if it was neither up-to-date or nor up to snuff — and even if we hadn’t visited it for years!

No matter. We didn’t have to start from scratch or learn something new — the foundation had been laid. LinkedIn is so easy to use that all we had to do was find the password to log in, freshen it up a bit, and join the conversation.

And that simple action — of joining the conversation — did what action tends to do — it provided an actual experience to learn from, which is what builds confidence.

I know it seems counterintuitive, because you may imagine that you need to feel confident first, before you take any action and especially before putting yourself “out there.”

But in fact, marketing yourself can actually help you build your confidence, especially when you’re reinventing yourself and your career, or trying something new.

As one client of mine wrote, “Being an 'experienced newbie' — someone with a career behind them who is starting to learn to do something new for a living — can easily create a crisis of confidence. We get used to being able to do what we do, so encountering feelings of uncertainty and vulnerability can be a big challenge.”

How do we get over that?

Here’s what she suggests:

“First, ask for help. Go to an expert and let them guide you.

Second, throw yourself into your marketing. Say what? Surely you need to be confident BEFORE you start marking yourself? Turns out … No. It's the other way round.”

Of course, I agree because I’ve seen it firsthand, with this client and many, many other copywriters.

That’s why I encourage you to try it.

Don’t wait for confidence to “appear.” Take a tiny action and then another and then another. You’ll see for yourself what starts to happen.

Do you have any questions about getting started marketing yourself as a copywriter? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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Published: April 29, 2021

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