You’re probably sick of hearing me say this, but everyone you meet or talk to is a potential client. For example, I recently met with my son’s Cub Scout Pack Leader and his business partner to help them with a social media strategy. I also met with someone I met at a party to help her work on a blog for her small business. These were casual encounters and they turned into business relationships.
Taking Casual Relationships to Another Level
In 2009, I was offered an opportunity to blog for the BlogWorld & New Media Expo. The job was a real treat for me because I love BlogWorld and everything it stands for. It’s the one event I never miss. There’s more to it, though. Over the years, I developed a friendly relationship with BlogWorld founder Rick Calvert begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting and former Social Media Director, Jim Turner. We never spent a huge block of time talking but we’re friendly on the social networks and chat a bit at social media events. They trusted me because I took the time to get to know them online.
At SXSW, I spent quite a bit of time with the BlogWorld team in the Blogger Lounge and on the trade show floor. At the time they offered me a more lucrative blogging opportunity and I gladly accepted. Then we all (along with my conference buddy Chris Garrett) had some dinner together. At dinner we discussed plans for BlogWorld ’10. I tossed out a few casual suggestions for things I’d like to see and offered a bit of feedback but didn’t think of it as anything more than conversation. I was talking about my favorite event with some friends.
The next day I was floored with Rick and his partner Dave Cynkin asked me if I would like to be their new Conference Director.
I didn’t go to SXSW looking for a gig but I came home with an offer worth considering. I didn’t need an elevator pitch or a resume. I landed a very cool part time job by building relationships online and solidifying them offline. My online relationship with the BlogWorld team led to a casual blogging gig, a blossoming friendship, and then a more lucrative offer.
When I’m asked why I spend so much time on the social networks or meeting people, this is why. It’s because I made some truly class-A friends whose support and advice are something I truly value. That some of those relationships led to important professional opportunities is the gravy. I don’t make friends to make clients, but the truth is, people like to hire those they trust.
The BlogWorld story isn’t unique. I made many important contacts and friendships because I’m not afraid to meet with the people and cultivate both online and offline relationships. I don’t take any of my relationships for granted.
Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to think about everyone you talk to on a regular basis. This can be friends, online contacts. family or acquaintances through school and sports programs. Consider everyone you meet or talk to. Now, think about how many of those people will need a freelancer one day.
Now, I’m not saying we should all bombard our neighbors with smarmy sales pitches, but I am saying that one day they, or the people they work for, might want to hire a freelancer. Do you think they’d rather take out a Craigslist ad or hire someone with whom they already have a relationship?
Don’t ever be afraid to keep a business card handy.
Tell us about some of the people in your world. How can you turn some of those casual relationships into professional relationships?