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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Writers Worth Week, Day Two: Create Your Own Reality

What I'm reading: Cannery Row by John Steinbeck (finished it!)
What's on the iPod: Soul and Skin by The Clarks

Thank you all for a fabulous start to Writers Worth Week yesterday! It was a great outpouring of support and suggestions. You've proven once again that the writing community is the best support system on the planet.

Keep commenting on any of the Writers Worth Week posts all this week for your chance to win a copy of The Worthy Writer's Guide to Building a Better Business.

Today's stop on our blog tour is Devon Ellington's Ink in My Coffee. Devon's been one of my super best chums for a while now, and once more she opens her blog up to my rantings. Go give her some comment love.

And here's another stop on the blog tour: Anne Wayman's About Freelance Writing. Give Anne a visit, as well.

Even on vacation last week, I had time to think about how to build a stronger career. I didn't have to think too hard. The trip I was on started because of a conference. I turned the conference into a huge networking event. The early results - terrific. I handed out brochures only to vendors who expressed genuine interest. If they looked trapped or uneasy, I walked away. I had taken 50 brochures. I came home with eight. So yes, the networking was more successful than I could have imagined.

The work won't come today or tomorrow, but I have no doubt that, in at least eight cases, the work is definitely going to come. I spent about $1,000 on that trip. It could easily net me $30,000 in work. You bet I made the right decision. I went with the intention of creating work, and I'm happy to say that's going to happen.

And that's today's advice - create your own reality. It's easy to approach your career with trepidation. Isn't that the nature of freelance, to wonder if you're going to get that job or keep that client? Ironically, I've found that the easiest way to score the job is to behave as though you don't need it. Let me explain.

I didn't hard sell these conference people on my skills. In fact, I didn't talk about myself at all until they asked me what I do and who I was with. I let them tell me all about their products and services. I listened, too. I looked for gaps in their marketing or in the way they were communicating. Not that I pointed it out at all, but I made damn sure to note what I'd be suggesting to them in follow-up conversations. When they asked what I did, I told them. I mentioned I had written for most magazines in the room and that I wrote for companies such as theirs, helping with marketing. Then I paused and judged the reaction. If they reacted any way but enthusiastically, I let it drop. Fortunately, most were eager to hear more.

But I left a business card and an impression with those who weren't so receptive. I didn't beg them for work, nor did I even ask for the job. I left them with the feeling that I didn't need to. If they need a writer, they'll call. If not, they may pass my name along.

I created two realities in that one trip, actually. I was determined to go into the conference prepared and ready to land new clients. The other reality - I made sure they viewed me as a valuable commodity, not someone desperately begging for crumbs. Not bad for just two days, eh?

So your assignment today - create your reality. What approach, actions, or presence could you improve in order to increase your value in your client's mind? How have you created your current reality? Is it the one you thought you'd have or is it better/worse?


Ashley said...

This is a great mindset. I'm often less willing to buy from someone who is trying to hard sell me or pester me into purchasing. I don't like to be pressured or pushed, and your approach is smart to avoid that, while still realizing how a potential client could benefit from hiring you.

My reality is pretty good because I keep making new contacts and meeting new people. This week, I'm going to attend a release party for a magazine I'd like to write for, despite that I'm very shy and will be nervous to walk into a party where I don't know anyone and I'm trying to get work. But I'm so glad you wrote about this today, because I'm not desperate for work, and I'll make sure that's clear, even though I'd like to add this publication to my client list!

Pamela Moeng said...

I appreciate the advice against the hard sell. I hate hard sell Harry's/Harriette's myself. Who hasn't been pressured to buy a product you don't need when you can ill afford what you do need? My reality has been given a real boost from Damaria on Storypot. We've been friends for more than 20 years and now we're working together as professional writers in her media house. She's a big supporter and she pointed me in Lori's direction - a compass point I intend to visit often!

Lori said...

Ashley, that's great news! Go armed with questions. Nothing quells shyness like knowing what you'll ask. If someone else is talking, you don't have to worry about carrying the conversation. :)

Pamela, I'm thankful for Damaria, too. She and I got to know each other recently (from Entrecard, perhaps), and I've been continuously impressed by her professionalism and her big heart. You're lucky to have known her so long!

Paula said...

Count me among those who hate the hard sell. In fact, that's the one thing a salesperson can do that will cause me not to buy. It smacks of desperation. My dad always said if the product is good enough, you don't have to push so hard - it will sell itself.

One thing I've done to "create my current reality" is to provide thoroughness along with the standard clean copy. I dig up extra sources, I ask more questions than I probably need to, I fact check details before I hit send.

The only time I'm temped to cut corners is for low-paying clients that make too many demands. Those folks get what little they pay for...and I try to avoid working for them, anyway.

Lori said...

Paula, I nearly stopped frequenting my favorite tea shop because of the hard sell. Ask me once if I need anything more. Don't ask, then suggest this, then suggest that and that...and then ask me if I'm sure. I am. Trust me. I know what I want and what I don't. It was so bad I wrote to the company and complained.

Great way to increase your value - give more. Amen.

Anne Wayman said...

Always glad when you write for my blog Lori, always.

And yes, we really do create our own realities, at least in large measure.

My attitude today is one of anticipation of fun, and ample funds.


Lori said...

Love your attitude, Anne. And you were the one who taught me to envision what I wanted. My lord, that works so well!

hugh.c.mcbride said...

"I made sure they viewed me as a valuable commodity, not someone desperately begging for crumbs.

I realize I'm a bit late to the commenting party on this post, but I couldn't let this sentence pass unremarked-upon.

If there's one overarching message I take away from this blog -- ya know, in addition to the incredible day-to-day advice; the myriad tips, techniques & insights; & the involvement with this amazing community of readers & writers -- it's what's expressed in the excerpt in italics at the top of this comment.

Of course, what precedes making sure that others view you as a valuable commodity is viewing yourself (and your talents) this way.

I know this is the theme of Writers Worth Week -- but I also wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your effort to promote this message every day, & to convince everyone who stops by here to see themselves this way. I have no doubt that I & a lot of others out there are much more "worthy" writers because of this blog. (So, thanks for that!)

Lori said...

Hugh, thank you. I appreciate you. :)

There's the solution, too. It's in what you said: "...what precedes making sure that others view you as a valuable commodity is viewing yourself (and your talents) this way." So you get your own set of italics. :)

Damaria Senne said...

Thanks for the tip, Lori. I decided to take your advice and sent a letter of introduction to a company I want to work for. I found out that their in-house writer was leaving unexpectedly and thought they wouldn't have had time to advertise her position yet. So I sent a short email introducing myself, attaching my company profile. The marketing manager responded within two hours; said they'd be in touch if they need anything. As you say, the work may not come through today, but they are open to the possibility and if they have a need, they will have information that can help them make the decision to hire me.

Lori said...

Damaria, fantastic! Congratulations!!!

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