When I started my writing business, Edit This®, nine years ago, I remember walking into my first networking meeting feeling woefully unprepared and unsure of what to say or how to get people interested in what I did. I needed a few networking tips from a trustworthy source.
Thankfully, a buddy of mine met me at the door with a brilliant idea.
"You can't just get up there and say something boring like, 'Hello, I'm Steve Gamel. My company is Edit This ... blah, blah, blah,'" he said. "I'm gonna heckle you instead; you've got to trust me."
"What are you talking about?" I said.
"You're gonna stand up and say, 'Hi, everyone. I'm Steve with Edit This,' and I'll immediately say, 'Edit what?' That's when you'll say with confidence, 'Edit This!' I'll ask, 'What's that?' And you'll say, 'I'm glad you asked.'" he said. "That's when you'll tell us what you do."
He was laughing maniacally by this point. So naturally, I went along with it.
What did I have to lose, right?
The funny thing is – it worked. Everyone in the room was floored. Was it silly? Absolutely. But everyone was instantly intrigued and wanted to learn more. Even if a few of them weren't interested, I still had their attention. All these years later, the whole "Edit This ... Edit what" bit follows me to whatever networking event I attend.
And it's never just one or two people in the room throwing me a bone.
It's a full-on production where everyone happily gets involved.
Does this mean I expect you to come up with something for your writing or editing business that's equally as zany or catchy? No. Of course not. But as I said in last week's blog, networking – with business owners, community members, non-profits, and other writers and editors – has helped me build personal and business relationships that will last a lifetime.
You can do the same thing if you invest your time and energy into it.
And the more you show up, the easier it will be to grow your writing business.
Have you started a writing business, or are you at least thinking about it? Our consulting and coaching services are geared toward writers because we've been in your shoes and want to see you succeed! Call Steve today at 469-360-3611 or send an email to email@example.com.
What If Networking Isn't My Thing?
Perhaps not everybody feels as passionate as I do about networking. Maybe they've never done it before. Maybe they tried but didn't really know where to start and gave up. They could be shy, scared, or anxious about standing up in front of all those strangers.
They could even think networking is a farce.
But getting better at it with a little time, patience, and effort is possible.
Here are a few easy networking tips for growing your writing business with confidence:
Have a good 30-second commercial ready – You don't have to go overboard as I did. Just be efficient, upbeat, and clear about who you are and what you do. Have fun! Keep it simple and appealing; the questions will start rolling in.
Have business cards handy – If you are a business owner, one of the first questions someone will ask you at a networking event (besides your name) is what you do for a living. The next question will hopefully be about exchanging business cards. Don't leave them hanging. Have plenty of cards in your wallet, purse, or pockets.
Don't hang out in one spot – I know the food section looks tasty, but it's not a good look to stand by the buffet line. I mean, how can you network with food in your mouth? Move around and mingle. This is your chance to meet people, develop relationships, and see how you can help each other grow personally and professionally.
Be approachable – To piggyback off the previous networking tip, people will flock to you and include you in conversations if you look like you want to be there. That means smiling and being interested in what others are saying.
Listen – Whether you’re new to networking or haven’t been consistent with it, pay attention to who else is in the room, what they say, and how they conduct themselves. Not only can you learn additional networking tips from the veterans in the room, but you never know who you might have a synergistic relationship with (website designers, graphic design artists, other writers and editors, etc.).
Lean on the people you know – If you're nervous, bring a friend or colleague to the first couple of networking meetings. If you know someone in the room, ask them to introduce you to people. This helps keep you at ease.
Ask open-ended questions – Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple "Yes" or "No." You want to learn all you can about everyone in the room, and you want them to learn everything about you. Once you've got a nice conversation going, ask follow-up questions to keep the momentum going.
Don't be afraid to ask for what you need – Don't be so quick to whip out the old portfolio and start selling people right there on the spot. With that said, let people know your ideal client and what you’re looking for that week, when appropriate. The same holds true if you need someone to introduce you to a key player in your industry. This is what networking is for!
Keep coming back – Networking doesn't work if you show up once or every few months. People need to see you constantly so that you stay top of mind. The other people in the room with you also tend to remember what you do for a living if you're always there to remind them each week. More importantly, showing up consistently helps develop that know, like, and trust factor.
Schedule 1-on-1s – These are smaller get-to-know-you meetings with another person. Share a little bit about yourself, then give them time to share their story. Finally, both of you can talk about how you can work together to help each other grow. You never know who you'll meet and who they know, so don't underestimate the power of 1-on-1s.
Want More Writing Business Tips? Call Edit This!
I feel an incredible sense of responsibility to share with other writers and editors who are just starting out on their own what worked for me, what didn't, what I wish I did differently, and everything in between. This way, they can start their writing business faster and with more confidence than I ever had all those many years ago.
And if you're interested in working with us on an ongoing basis for more tips and tricks, pick up the phone and call. A writing consulting and coaching professional works collaboratively with a writer to help take their passion for writing from a hobby to a successful freelance writing career. We aren’t your editor, writer, ghostwriter, or second set of eyes, and we won’t take the steps toward small-business ownership for you. But we will coach you through getting that business started, including giving you practical advice, actionable step-by-step instructions, accountability and structure, and anything else we can do to help you overcome obstacles that may pop up.
Everything starts with a FREE 30-minute call. From there, you’ll have three 45-60-minute phone, Zoom, or in-person sessions per month, where we provide customized step-by-step instructions to keep you on track and turn your hobby into a successful writing business.
There are hundreds of ways to flex your creative writing muscles and build a successful freelance writing business. And we want to help.
Thank you for reading!
STEVE GAMEL is the President & Owner of Edit This®, a writing and editing services company in Denton, TX. He is also a consultant and coach and the author of Write Like You Mean It: Mastering Your Passion for the Written Word. Steve handles anything involving the written word. Give him a call today to help give your business a clear voice.
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