Many small business owners, including freelance writers, believe they can build their business alone. Building a solid business requires people. You could go it alone, but the road may be winding and long. Success could take its time to grace you with its presence. When it does, you’ll be tired and won’t enjoy it that much!
Building relationships is like dating — it requires interest, patience, and care. Don’t rush people and immediately begin telling them about you and your business. Get to know them first and exchange phone numbers and emails. Set up a time to meet and go from there. Go slow and take it one step at a time.
Tip: When you meet people, ask what you can do for them instead of what they can do for you. Yes, it sounds like Kennedy’s famous speech but it’s true.
Freelance writers often work alone and may not be skilled in the art of relationship building. Don’t panic because you are capable of developing strong relationships. When you attend networking events, make sure you get to know people before you ask for business. Take time to get to know people first and business second. After you get a sense of how you can help, ask to schedule a coffee or lunch meeting. Listen to what they have to say before giving your 30-second elevator pitch. Many people hear, but they do not listen to what others are saying. Pay attention when someone is speaking then ask if you could offer your advice and services. If you receive a “yes,” explain how solve problems and add value to clients. This is where freelance writers can fall short because they believe they’re in the writing business. See What Business Are You in Today? for more information.
Tips for Building Relationships
- Get to know people before you ask for business. Ask people about their families, hobbies, or how they got started in their business. Don’t go for the jugular as soon as you meet people.
- Take it slow. Just like dating, you don’t want to propose on the first date! Ask for a coffee or lunch meeting to gather more information about a potential client’s business. After you collected the information, let them know how you can be of service.
- Get out of your comfort zone. Freelance writers are artists are solo professionals. The thought of meeting new people terrifies some of them to death. Take baby steps and join one or two business groups to gain your networking legs. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be attending three or four events a month.
- Be sincere. There’s nothing worse than a phony. People don’t like being taking advantage of and it could ruin your reputation. Remember “word-of-mouth” is still a viable means of advertising. Be genuine and take an interest in people. Everyone wants to know they matter and are making a contribution to the world.
Freelance writers remember that it’s not about you. What can you do for potential clients? What problems can you solve? How will you add value to their business? Think about these questions before you whip out your business card and tell people you’re the most wonderful freelance writer in the world and that’s why they should hire you!
How has building relationships affected your business? Share your thoughts.