One of the questions freelance writers ask me most is, “How can I find better-paying clients?” Another one is “Where are all the good-paying clients hiding?” A third one is, “Why can’t I find any good-paying clients?”
I’m sensing a theme here, that people want to know more about how to connect with great clients.
There are many ways to hunt these elusive good clients, but today I want to talk about two of my favorite in-person techniques for connecting with good-paying clients.
That’s right, these methods involve leaving your writing cave, going out, and meeting live humans.
Don’t be scared!
Once you get the hang of it, networking is actually a lot of fun. Or it should be — so remember to have fun with it.
Since I’m headed out to SOBCon next week, in-person networking is on my mind. Here are two techniques that are pretty fail-proof and simple for maximizing your networking time:
1. Eat lunch for two and a half hours
When I used to work big trade shows, I did this all the time. If you’re at an all-day or weekend networking event, there’ll be lunch. Often, there’s a big food court in an exhibition hall where people will wander in and eat at various times.
Start early — I usually go in around 11:15 and eat my own lunch, so that I could talk when others sat down. I keep a little on my plate so it looks like I’m still eating lunch.
Shortly, new people arrive with their lunch.
“Do you mind if I sit here?” they ask. “Of course not — sit right down!” I reply.
They take a bite or two of food, and then I start shmoozing them up, just like you see those two guys in the photo doing at a business event. “Where are you from? How are you enjoying the conference? What does your company do? Interesting…do you use freelance writers at all at your company? Who’d be the best person at your company to talk to about that?”
Often, I could keep sitting there chatting with new prospects until 2 pm. As people finish lunch, new people arrive, and you begin again.
I love this technique because you’ve got a captive audience — they’re chewing. If you do it pleasantly, they won’t become so annoyed they pick up their plate and leave. Everyone’s in a good mood and on a mental ‘break’ while they eat, so it’s a great time to meet people.
If you’re in a scenario where everyone sits down to lunch in one place at the same time, circulate amongst the tables. When you go back for a second roll or dessert, sit back down at a different table, and begin your shmooze-up over again with the new crowd.
2. Host an event
If you’re going to take the trouble of going out to a networking event, you can put in a tiny bit more effort and ensure you meet every single person who attends the event. How? By being the host or co-host.
My writing bud Michelle Goodman is the co-host of our Seattle MediaBistro networking events, and I’m jealous! It is a great gig.
Why? Here’s how hosting helps you meet the largest number of people and be seen in the best possible light:
First, the host gets to stand by the check-in table and greet everyone as they pick up their name tags. You can chat up a lot of people that way.
Next the host gets to make a little speech somewhere in the proceedings to thank everybody for coming, in which you can say a bit about what you do…so anybody the host didn’t connect with on check-in now knows what you look like, and a little about your freelance writing business.
Finally, it’s my experience that when attendees leave a networking event, nearly all of them do one thing: They go over and thank the host for putting it on.
In other words, the host gets to meet basically every single person who attends the event. Those people all come away with the impression that you are a happening coordinator of events as well as a freelance writer.
Networking doesn’t get more effective than this. It’s a big payoff just for setting up a table, printing out a few nametags, and maybe sending a couple promotional emails. This one is a strategy I recommend to all the writers in my mentoring program, who’re looking to ramp up their earnings and — yes, find those better-paying clients.
How do you make in-person networking effective? Leave a comment and add your tips.
Photo: Stock.xchng – LotusHead