The Dreaded Must-Wear Pants Pitch
-Today, many freelancers work behind the protection of a computer screen. No pants—and minimal personal interaction—required. But some of the best jobs come from pavement pounding, handshakes, and must-wear-pants pitches. Whether you’re a freelance journalist looking for the next big news story or you’re a content-marketing genius pitching product descriptions to a local retailer, face-to-face pitches and presentations can help you seal the deal. Here are some tips for getting out of the house and in front of people who can pay you for your words.
- Wear pants. It probably doesn’t need to be said, but after years of working from a home office, I sometimes forget that the rest of the world doesn’t do life in a combination of yoga pants, running shorts, and their husbands’ oversized t-shirts. When pitching clients in person, dress professionally. At minimum, go business casual, which means slacks and a collared shirt for men and the same, or a skirt or dress option, for women.
- Respect boundaries. It’s okay to drop a 30-second pitch to another professional in a networking environment or if you’re already having drinks or dinner, but don’t accost people who are minding their own business in a coffee shop or using the rest room in a corporate office building.
- Start with a phone call. Phone calls help you find out who the decision maker is, provide an idea about how receptive a company is to freelance content, and might even land you some work without a face-to-face pitch. Lots of writers have received the green light after a bold phone call and a couple of samples.
- Pitch the right person. You know what’s worse than a no? A yes from someone who doesn’t hold the purse strings or make the final decisions that becomes a no once your pitch is passed up the chain. You might have to play a game of corporate Chutes and Ladders to land a job, but avoid it when possible.
- Be prepared. Have something to show potential clients—including samples that are relevant to their industry or niche. I know freelancers hate writing for free, but if you don’t have an extensive portfolio, you might have to create custom samples to land a few of your first local clients.
- Follow up on pitch promises. You probably won’t walk out of a presentation with a signed contract—business wheels move unbearably slow, especially in a corporate environment. Follow up timely on any agreements you made during a pitch, such as to email sample content. Think of post-pitch commitments as tryouts. If you can’t remember to email something, your potential client isn’t going to put much faith in your services.
- Don’t talk above – or below – your audience. During your pitch, get an idea regarding the audience’s understanding of content marketing. Don’t use niche phrases or abbreviations such as SEO or Schema without defining them unless you’re dealing with content marketing professionals. If the potential client doesn’t understand what you’re offering, they won’t buy it.
Putting on real pants and getting out of your house to find work might be frightening, but it can also be rewarding on a number of levels. Join professional organizations in your area and attend corporate and industry events. You might gain some high-paying clients, but you’ll also get ideas for content and meet like-minded people in your area. Even freelancers need professional social outlets from time to time.
Writer Bio: Sarah S likes to work anonymously from a computer screen while sitting in the open at the public library. Despite years of giving corporate presentations, she still gets nervous when putting on pants and pitching clients face-to-face.