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July 04, 2010

Write for you?

One thing I used to not be very good at, but have improved since the start of this project, is approaching people and pitching them my ideas or services. It's something people do regularly in my field, but I always felt like I was imposing on them or somehow begging to get hired. I still pitched and queried, but unless I had an established professional relationship with that employer, it gave me the jitters.

I know even experienced professionals get nervous during the proposal/pitch phase. Show me one who doesn't and I'll ask for his or her secrets! However, asking frequently has improved my confidence and put success and failure in perspective. So I get rejected. Big deal. And why assume I'm imposing (or an imposter), rather than that I have something to contribute?

For this reason, when I met two women at an event in my industry on June 16 and asked them if they'd like to hire me for freelance work -- just like that, a quick and friendly half-joking but fully serious pitch -- it didn't feel strange or daunting. Both gave me their cards and neither seemed to think I was pushy.

And it produced results. Writing this two weeks later, I'm thrilled to say that one of those people gave me an assignment. The other hasn't -- in part because, gulp, I haven't written to her yet. (BTW, hoping that window hasn't closed. I know what I'll do when I sign out of blogger...)

Certainly, approach has a lot to do with it. I didn't bound up to them and say, "Hi, Hire me!" We talked, I made an authentic connection and when I discovered I might be able to contribute to their organizations, I asked. Also, I only did it with two of the 10 or so people I spoke with.

As an afterthought, I wonder what role gender plays in business card exchanges. This would be an interesting study (though I'm sure it's been done). What do you think? Do women and men approach business card exchanges differently? Do they follow up in different ways? Any other thoughts?
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