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.
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.
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.