I have to confess, I’m a total introvert who hates talking to people and doing marketing. The thought of talking on the phone with someone I don’t know makes me nervous; having to attend a meeting or function to network really drives me crazy. I’m just not a schmoozing kind of gal.
We all get nervous in situations where the first impression really matters. Whether in a casting call, a query letter or a networking function, we’re going to talk about how to best present yourself for the best possible impression. Here are some do’s—and don’ts—to rocking your first impression with a new client:
- If you’re contacting them with regards to a particular piece, lead with a hook. Anyone interviewing a number of writers won’t want to know as much about you at first, they want to know what you can do for them. If you’re pitching a project, mention your idea. Make it relevant to their needs and create urgency by mentioning a new study, a news article or upcoming publicity related to it. For example, pitch content creation on the dangers of food additives by bringing up new studies showing a relationship between artificial food colorings and ADHD.
- If your contact is not about a particular project, start in by mentioning both your professional accomplishments and your relevant experience to the project.
- Once you’ve hooked them, draw them in with your professionalism. Do you have over two decades in construction, exceptional feedback from clients or an elite rating in a particular subject? This is the time to tell them why you are the only realistic choice for their project.
- Always remain courteous and formal, but not too formal. Follow basic business guidelines in written correspondence (including email) and carry those guidelines over into your networking functions and telephone meetings.
- Tell them why you want to form a business relationship with them. Does it motivate you to write content that gives people the advice or help they need? Do you think their product is just the bee’s knees? Tell them that you’re excited and want to help them promote it. This does not mean, however, that you’re willing to accept lower pay for your work; as a professional, you have a right to expect a reasonable wage for your efforts.
Now that you’ve got a few ideas on what to do and not to do, why not put that knowledge into practice? Work up some basic letters of introduction, query letters, casting call pieces or a basic, ten-second introduction for in-person or telephone interactions, and then put them to use! Thomas Edison once said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Sitting back and waiting for the work to come in is not a reasonable expectation in any business; now that you know how, it’s time to pursue your future with the best effort you can provide.
Cathleen V is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.