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Linked, Faced, Blogged and Milled – What’s your network? - Sudden Write Turn Freelance Writing

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Linked, Faced, Blogged and Milled – What’s your network?

Did you tweet about your blog post then update your status to reflect profile changes? Of course you did, right after you approved a tag and checked-in.

This week I plan to attend a real, live handshakes-and-door prizes networking event. I am pinning high hopes on this Chamber of Commerce member mixer, if only that at the end of two hours I will have met people and had actual conversations. This will be the polar opposite of the entire morning I recently spent setting up a profile on Elance.com, a website that connects freelancers of all kinds to customers of all kinds. Wiki defines it as “A global online employment platform.”

For example, I could send a proposal to a client in Israel seeking a ghostwriter for a 12,000-word report on green smoothies. Another posting might be for proofreading the dialogue of a comic book, or editing a stamp collecting article.

These are all real jobs posted, and each has received several competing proposals within an hour or so of posting.

After that long morning of establishing my Elance profile, I sat back and felt like I had just dropped a fishing line into a deep pond. How long would I have to wait for a nibble?

Now I see myself more as the fish. Particularly, like pond koi used to frequent tourist feedings; I am bobbing up against a crowd and all of our mouths are upturned waiting for a bit of bread to be tossed our way.

I’ve not yet submitted any proposals, and I have been cautioned by those who have gone before me to be discerning and to expect to have to undersell. Indeed, one must fight for stale bread.

This effort may or may not result in a single paying writing job, and from what I’ve seen already I could end up putting in a lot of work on a project and receive sub-minimum wage pay. Then there are online content-mills (among which Elance is not counted) that lure writers into working for pennies a word. If you’re lucky to be paid at all.

Yet, the way I see it, you can’t drink the punch if you don’t go to the party.

LinkedIn – check.

Website – check.

Blog – check.

Even though I’m “logged-in,” sometimes this feels like throwing a handful of business cards out of the front door and hoping for an interested call or email to materialize.

[I Facebook only for fun, friends and family, and my tweeting is limited to whistling for the dog to go outside.]

In today’s business, having an online presence makes you “real.” This is probably true more for a newbie, like me, trying to get work. But I happen to personally know very busy freelance writers who need no such digital trappings to get work and keep working.

They get work because they have clients that they have met the old-fashioned way: at a networking event, a luncheon, introduced by another client, or the random social connection at a park/party/the kid’s swim meet. They know people, not screen names.

Over the next two weeks I plan to attend three different networking events where real live people might actually accept my business card. The local Chamber of Commerce member mixer I mentioned, another town-wide local business Chamber event and a media panel discussion offered by the local chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

One might say that I’m diversifying. A little cyber space and a little face-to-face, because I want my hat in the ring on Elance and I want to shake the hands of my future clients.

I’ll let you know how the punch tastes.

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  1. Bravo! Eloquently written. And I know that web presence is a must if you have a business, but the only crumbs that are tossed to you will be tossed by the faces of those who know you.

  2. This was a great post! Not only did I learn a great deal about how things work in the freelance world nowadays, but it was brought a smirk and smile as well. I sort of do the same thing with my business, (lots of casting my line) but what I have found is face to face serves me very well, and phone calls too. I miss the old ways of doing business, a gathering, a handshake…good for you! I bet it pays off. Back to reminiscing…there’s an Andy Griffith marathon playing on TV.

    • Thanks, Teresa! There is a lot of work involved in marketing/self-promotion, but I try to resist the temptation to just “do” what everyone else is doing.

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