Networking trouble

Hi all,

I'm fairly new to the writing business.  I was told to network a lot in order to attract new clients but I'm having a lot of trouble with that since I am introverted by nature and speaking about myself to people I don't know  doesn't come naturally to me. I've tried, but it really is very hard for me to ''sell myself and my services.'' Are there any other ways to attract new clients? Also, how important is it to have an online presence when you're starting out? I've heard several conflicting opinions on that one.

Gitty K.

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5 thoughts on “Networking trouble”

  1. Well, you’re networking by posting here. 🙂 And networking with colleagues can be just as important as networking with prospects. Colleagues often get work requests they can’t take on, and when you build trust with them and something comes up in your specialty area, they’re likely to refer you.

    It’s about marketing. Don’t mistake that with “selling.” That can be anything from running your own blog to build your authority status to sending a few emails to prospects. It’s not all about the hard-sell. And if you’re not into querying and cold calling, you can succeed without any direct marketing at all (search this site for “query-free freelancing” which is what I personally do — it’s about networking and building a platform).

    Having an online presence is essential these days if you don’t already have a strong network and existing client base. Most of the best gigs aren’t publicly advertised. Clients find writers for those gigs in three key ways:

    1. By searching for someone specializing in what they need (so you’d better be online with decent search visibility if you want these gigs).

    2. Through referrals (why networking is so important — and maintaining an online presence helps build a network through a blog, social networks, forums, email, blog comments on other sites, etc.).

    3. Through pitches received from writers (generally unsolicited). But it sounds like you’re not interested in the more “salesy” types of marketing. That makes an online presence even more important. There’s no good reason not to have one. The writer who doesn’t need one at all is an exception to the rule. And in business, it’s never smart to bank on being the exception, especially with something that’s fairly simple to do.

    Instead of speaking about yourself, I’d focus on building visibility and a reputation by talking about things you know — whatever your specialty is. Start a blog connected to your professional site (it’s never too late to set one up, though now is always better than later when it comes to building search visibility). Guest post on other sites. Comment on sites your target clients read. Visit forums and social networks where target clients hang out (not just other writers). Just talk to them. See what kinds of questions they’re asking. And if you can answer their questions, do that. By making yourself a go-to source of information, you’ll stick in their minds and they’ll remember you when they need to hire someone with your expertise.

    But whatever you do, don’t worry too much about sales and marketing. I mean, “worry” about it in the sense of “do it every single day.” But don’t worry about it in terms of nerves or introverts vs extroverts. There are marketing tactics out there than we’re all more comfortable with than others. You just have to find yours.

  2. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. What you’re saying makes a lot of sense and I feel like I finally am clear on where to go from here. This blog is great-it’s a wonderful source of information and support. Just out of curiosity, how long have you been writing for?

  3. I’m happy if that helped.

    I’ve been writing professionally for others since 1999, blogging since 2004, and indie publishing since 2006. So I guess I’m going on 16 years now, writing for money (though I wrote fiction and had poetry published before that, and I was a student investigative journalist before writing professionally).

  4. Gitty, it’s tough for introverts at first, but there’s no reason why you can’t stick with email or online networking until you get comfortable with it. Just send clients a letter of introduction, briefly go over your experience (and if you don’t have experience, stick with any areas you’re intending to focus on), and show them you know them. I like to review their websites and point out their newsroom or some article they published, then tie it to how I can help them keep that momentum going.

    As Jenn suggests, pitches are one way to get your name out there, and you don’t necessarily have to sell them on anything.


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