Step Away from Your Writing Desk

As a not-so-secret introvert, I love doing everything online. So living thousands of miles away from most of my clients isn’t a big deal. Google Hangouts, Skype and email give us that almost face to face interaction that we all need occasionally. But here’s something even introverts need to accept: if you remain a hermit, you miss out on growth opportunities for your business.

gptwo writing desk 300x257 Step Away from Your Writing Desk

That’s why, even if your natural inclination is to shy away from in-person meetings and events, it’s a good idea to step away from the computer and the office cubicle and smell the not-so-virtual roses. icon smile Step Away from Your Writing Desk

One of the great things about being a writer is that every business needs content (even the ones who think they don’t) and therefore they need writers, too. That means even events that don’t seem related to your niche can produce good gigs.

Winning Writing Gigs By Going Offline

Here are three examples of how this has worked for me.

A few years ago I met someone whom I hadn’t seen since the start of my writing career (she was the first person I’d ever interviewed). She needed web content and she wanted lots of in-person meetings while we worked on her site. We chatted about all kinds of things while we worked and got to know each other in a way that might not have happened by email. Since then, she’s been one of my most valuable local contacts. She mentions my name to anyone she meets who needs writing services, resulting in at least three lucrative gigs.

And there’s more.

One of the people she introduced me to was an editor who wanted to shoot the breeze with a successful professional. There wasn’t anything in it for me, but I agreed, and over the next few months we’d occasionally grab a cup of coffee and discuss the state of the online writing and editing market. Eventually, she hired me to train her on setting up a WordPress website and as I write, there’s another project in the works.

Getting Work from Networking Events

Then there have been a couple of unusual opportunities like the chance to go to a management consultants’ meeting. I figured I’d go and learn something about what they did, and I ended up with a client who needed help on a project proposal. As a bonus, I was forced to create a one page profile of my business to hand out at the meeting and I still have that now.

Most recently, I attended the launch of a local business networkingorganization. I got the chance to promote my business via a brief elevator pitch and to leave my business card (yes, I still have a few) with people who might want to work with me. I made a couple of contacts and I’m pretty sure that at least one of those is going to turn into a solid writing gig.

Why You Need to be In Your Face

The reason this all works is because many people still value that face-to-face interaction and you end up getting work from people you might not have reached by email. You can get new ideas for your business just by getting out of your online rut. You get to experience the visual cues that tell you whether you really want to work with certain people and to see their immediate, unfiltered reaction to your products and services. Most importantly, you can see whether they really get it or whether you still have work to do in refining how you describe your business.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m never going to be the social butterfly of the business world. I still believe that a large part of my day is about sitting down and getting the writing done. But when opportunities arise I don’t dismiss them as a waste of time.

Instead, I look over my marketing material and make sure that it will work for me in a face-to-face setting. I leave myself open to exploring new avenues that I might not find when sitting at my desk. How useful have you found it to do in person networking?

This post is part of the Word Carnival, posts on business by a whip-smart group of bloggers. This month’s theme: Rediscover the Real World: Unplug, Unwind, Unleash. Check out the rest of the posts here.

About Sharon Hurley Hall

Sharon Hurley Hall has been mentoring writers here at Get Paid To Write Online since 2005 to help them improve and build sustainable and successful writing careers. Check me out on sharonhh.com. Feel free to connect with me online on Google+.

Comments

  1. Spot on, Sharon. I was a road warrior in my corporate days. And for the most part, I welcomed the trips away from the office. I always said I felt it kept me in touch with my clients in a way email and the phone cannot match.

    I also did a lot of public speaking and I miss that. I make sure to network every year when I go back to San Diego and I typically throw in at least one other trip during the year to meet prospects. I think it helps me remain connected.
    cathy miller wants you to read 25 Overused Business Words With AlternativesMy Profile

  2. We don’t have to be social butterflies to benefit from real-world interactions! It might take a bit more planning and effort, but there’s really no substitute for building relationships and finding new clients.
    Tea Silvestre wants you to read A Surprising Way to Fix the Drawbacks of Digital Marketing (and Find New Clients)My Profile

  3. You never know how a relationship will evolve! And there is definitely something to being face to face with someone that makes a deeper connection than just being online. It’s part of being human. I don’t think anyone would accuse me of being a social butterfly! But you’re right, you don’t have to be to get out and meet people and get to know them.
    Carol Lynn wants you to read Internet Marketing Must Die: Real Life Lessons In Getting Out From Behind Your DeskMy Profile

  4. My question is always the same, Sharon, and I think it’s a fair one:
    What in the world did freelancers ever do before the inception of the internet?! They met with prospective clients, face to face, that’s what!
    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with marketing your skills and talents online but discounting the rewards of in-person networking would be a big mistake.

    You’re right …
    Human interaction, eyeball to eyeball, really helps to strengthen and deepen relationships. Cathy Miller would agree it helps to keep things “real”.

    It’s time we all expend more energy (and muster up the courage) to get away from our computers and smell the “not-so-virtual” roses. :)
    Melanie wants you to read Real World Networking: Shake Some Hands and Kiss Some BabiesMy Profile

    • When I started writing, I was a reporter, Melanie, so I had to meet people all the time. I was still an introvert, but I did my job. Not only did I survive :) but I met people who remained lifelong contacts.

  5. People don’t think I’m an introvert, but never am I more relieved to get home than after a networking event. They can be so exhausting! My biggest challenge when networking has always been explaining to people what copy editors do—that’s the hurdle I have to cross with many new acquaintances. But since I love talking about editing and how it can help anyone who writes anything (and think about how many people are generating content these days, what with blogs and social media!), I don’t mind.

    I think it all comes down to a good blend of online and in-person networking and marketing. Hard to accomplish, but worth it in the long run!
    Molly McCowan wants you to read Being an Editor Doesn’t Mean You Know Everything…Even When You Think You DoMy Profile

    • I know the feeling, Molly. Explaining that I’m a writer, but don’t work for a newspaper and actually get paid for blogging is tough, too! I’m always glad to return to solitude, but I agree that it’s good to blend the two.

  6. Sharon we are absolutely on the same page in regards to attending events that aren’t our usual fare. I love how you’ve highlighted the need to be open to connections, even ones that may not appear to initially benefit you. Plus you’ve given me a great reminder that I need to dust off and revisit the materials I do bring to events for the best effect.
    Nicole Fende wants you to read Mice Plus Men Doesn’t Equal ProfitMy Profile

  7. I had not thought about how beneficial face to face would be to get new ideas…duh…I even hate admitting it, but this was really great Sharon and love the different perspectives…inspirational for sure. You have given it a new face with more ideas…love it!
    Michelle Church wants you to read Why Running Away From Home Can Open A New WorldMy Profile

  8. “You can get new ideas for your business just by getting out of your online rut.” So true! I developed a new service this way – one we really LOVE to do. Also appreciated this, “You get to experience the visual cues that tell you whether you really want to work with certain people…” Some unfortunate nightmares could be avoided this way. :)
    Alisa Meredith wants you to read How Getting Out Can Get You “In” – An Introvert’s ConfessionMy Profile

  9. This hits the nail on the head: “You get to experience the visual cues that tell you whether you really want to work with certain people and to see their immediate, unfiltered reaction to your products and services.”

    And you know me, I love online networking…but one thing I’ve noticed is that after meeting people in person it’s usually a LOT easier to tell right off the bat if they’re going to be high maintenance customers/clients or not. Which, obviously, can save you a lot of time and energy in the long run.

  10. mITCH says:

    Hey Sharon,

    Very glad to read this article and agree that face to face business approach is more effective in acquiring the best clients.
    We all love to have a conversation with someone first, we want to be able to trust them before we can actually make business with them and this is very hard to achieve online.
    An online lead is just a one time sold service while an face to face direct lead , is a loyal returning customer, and a good friend.
    I believe successful businesses are built on a solid loyal returning clients that only wants to make business with you!
    Best.

  11. Staying behind a desk can keep us close-minded and only targeting those we think will bring us business where meeting face-to-face opens our mind and brings us other opportunities that we may not ever encounter by just sitting behind a desk all day.

    Great post and thanks for sharing!
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  12. I have stopped giving first-time prospects face-to-face meetings unless they’re willing to pay $350 for the privilege. It sorts the folks who just want to “pick my brain” from the folks who really want my help, and it saves me a WHOLE MESS OF TIME.

    Do I lose some potential clients? Probably. But I have dedicated days out and about, too – when I can offer face-to-face for like 5 minutes at a time and vet them out. If I sense they’re a user, I bail to my next engagement anyway.

    It’s a tricky balance but I always start with the premise that my time is too valuable to be given away for just coffee.
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  13. For the past 15 years I’ve met clients only rarely. And while I would rather sit in the comfort of my own home, I have lately hungered for more face-to-face social interaction. So I continue to coach writers over the Internet, but am adding local speaking and workshops to my calendar. It’s an attempt at balance, which is so difficult to achieve in life these days!

    • I could have sworn I replied to you earlier, Chris. I’m familiar with the never-ending quest for balance. :) I don’t want to be out every day, but a change of scene refreshes the mind and the creative spirit.

  14. Oliver Pusch says:

    It seems so simple, doesn’t it? if you want to gain, share, or give information you have to be ‘out in public’. So many ‘experts’ today offer their advice safely from behind their screens, and not sharing information with others in reality. It seems a simple thing to say, but you make wonderful basic points, here, Sharon – many thanks.

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