So you can write — awesome! That certainly helps.
You may already know, but being able to write is not enough… to build a business.
Other skills are necessary.
Like the dreaded CONTACTING CLIENTS… at least it fills me with dread.
Being shy can be an asset. You tend to have strong powers of observation and keen insight into the world. However, it can limit your ability to connect with others.
When I was young, a teacher told my mother that she was “pretty sure” I could read. The doubt came from the fact that I spoke so quietly, she couldn’t hear me. My lips seemed to form the right words…
Potential clients are not so patient.
What’s a Writer in Search of a Payday to Do?!
Even extroverts can find it difficult to go from engaging potential clients to closing the deal.
Whether you have a hard time with the initial approach, the follow up, or actually sealing the deal, one thing is certain: just talking about the plan is not going to set it in motion.
Since I don’t relish the idea of making cold calls, I’ve been studying Marcia Yudkin’s, The Shy Freelancer’s Guide to Landing Clients, and Steve Maurer’s How an Effective LinkedIn Profile Will Help You Achieve Copywriting Success. These resources are helping me creep out of my shell.
Honestly, I am a bit of social media hermit. So, reaching out on LinkedIn is still a big step for me. But Steve Maurer’s warm approach to linking to potential clients using this social business network isn’t so far outside my comfort zone that it keeps me from getting started.
Even a shy person can harness the power of LinkedIn to find clients and build a reputation using three key steps:
- Create a solid profile
- Find and link with potential clients
- Post meaningful comments and links to add value
These steps, though not complicated, do require some tenacity and follow through, if you hope for them to pay off.
1. Create a solid LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn prompts you along and gives you plenty of opportunity to add information… sometimes too much opportunity.
Then, you have the standard concerns…
Is my profile good enough? Am I showing a consistent message that ties into my niche?
Am I displaying my best, but authentic, self to potential clients and the rest of the world?
These are all important questions to ask. Don’t let them keep you from progressing. Instead, let them guide you in creating the strongest profile possible.
Due to my prior life, I’ve had the requisite profile for several years. But I’ve had to do some work for it to reflect my writing business. Since I picked a niche related to my work experience, it didn’t take too much tweaking. I wish I could say my profile is awesome… but I still think I have a ways to go.
My insecurities aside, I’m embracing LinkedIn more robustly now. With the soft launch of my business, NSMetz Writing, I’ve been updating and improving my presence. My profile now emphasizes elements that are important to B2B copywriting for the aviation industry.
One thing you need on LinkedIn is a professional picture. I just changed my picture this week. My original shot was too serious… I think.
The main thing is to move forward. Prepare your profile, get some feedback, and then accept the profile… for now. You can always edit it and add to it later. Don’t let second-guessing yourself become an excuse not to proceed. Check out this post from Steve Maurer for more helpful tips.
2. Exploring LinkedIn for potential clients and key industry people
Another great thing about LinkedIn is that you can search for prospective clients. The basic membership is free. If you opt for the business version, you’ll get more information and greater search capabilities.
Determine what kinds of companies you’d like to work for. When you do your search, scan target organizations, and then prepare a spreadsheet with key information. To start, you might want to focus on marketing managers with a shared connection. Indirect connections are meaningful too. I wanted to build some depth before reaching out to those with no connection.
Since I am an aviation enthusiast and private pilot, this search process is a fun way to take a closer look at many of its members.
Last week, I jumped in by contacting 15 potential clients or former aviation associates. Following Steve’s simple script, I requested to connect with them. Since then, 10 people accepted my invitation — a move in the right direction!
I need to add more people to my spreadsheet and continue to grow and offer value.
Your contacts can also add to your credibility. You can endorse your contacts in key areas and they may do the same for you.
Keep this in mind, though: I’ve had some people, complete strangers, ask for endorsements. I would avoid this temptation since that seems to devalue the LinkedIn experience.
3. Adding value to the contact links with meaningful comments
Simply making connections is not enough. Building a client base through LinkedIn requires multiple steps including posting worthwhile comments on the things your connections share.
Even though I chose aviation because of my personal interest, I find developing worthwhile comments taxing. However, to maximize benefit, you need to keep the dialogue open, and it’s best to do that with weekly actions.
For now, I comment on the posts of close contacts. This seems a little easier and friends tend to appreciate the effort. Positive reinforcement gives me courage to start commenting on potential clients’ posts too.
Ideally, by developing a LinkedIn relationship, potential clients will become more aware of you. They’ll come to value your input and to see you as a credible resource. From there, they can become leads and may go on to become actual clients — that’s what makes LinkedIn worth the effort.
Strengthening the quality of my connections is an ongoing process. Forming strong relationships is a critical factor to grow and maintain a business.
I am using these early weeks and months as a growth and development phase. I am confident (fingers crossed) that this will get easier and more spontaneous.
With the help of AWAI, I’ll continue to learn as I progress toward that six-figure income. I am not ready to shout from the rooftops, but using LinkedIn, I am starting to get my message heard.