The other day I was at a holiday gathering when an attendee asked if I can get him some freelance writing work or recommend him to my clients. My answer to him was “no,” but that I would offer tips for getting started. I know that wasn’t the answer he wanted, but I wasn’t about to give him or get him a job.
I said “no” for a couple of reasons.
1. This person has never written for anyone before in his life. I can’t in good conscience recommend anyone for a job if I don’t know a thing about his writing or his work ethic. I don’t recommend people simply because I know them, they have to earn their good reputation first.
2. I don’t believe in just giving people jobs because they ask, no matter how well I know them. People have been asking me to “find them work” or “get them a job” ever since I started this freelance writing blog. I find that kind of lame. As I mentioned above, you have to earn your recommendation. I have no way of knowing if you’re a good worker or a good writer. All the freelance writers I know worked hard to get where they are today without looking for handouts, I’d rather give my recommendation to someone I know will do well. This person isn’t going out and looking for work. He wants other people to find work for him. He indicated to us his ideal position would be not to do the work, but to delegate. I’d rather help someone who wants to work and put their all into the gig.
3. He was slovenly. My main reason for turning down this person is because of his appearance. Freelancers don’t see people every day but that doesn’t mean appearances don’t count. This person was at a holiday gathering wearing sweats, a dirty t-shirt and his hair was unkempt and looked like it hadn’t been combed in days. That he showed up for a party looking as he did, asked for a job looking as he did, and even went as far as to say he didn’t want to do actual work. all indicated laziness. If he can’t be counted on to take care with his appearance at a Christmas party, how can I trust him to take proper care with his work.
As I’ve said before, everyone you meet is a potential client. If they don’t hire writers, they might know someone who hires writers. Don’t you want the impression you make to be a good one? Appearances DO count, even when you’re freelancing. The person who approached me for a job may be the hardest worker in the world, but nothing in the way he looked or acted indicated this to me.
It’s one thing to be a little unkempt after bumping into someone on a jogging track or tennis court, it’s quite another thing to show up at dressier occassions looking like a slob. People remember. If you never make a good impression, they will never think of you as something other than what your appearance indicates.
Maybe that sounds snobby but some of my neighbors have actually contacted me for help with freelance writing and social media projects. I don’t think that would have happened if I dressed slovenly or didn’t practice good grooming. Appearances really do matter, even if you rarely leave the house.
Again, everyone you meet has the potential to become a client. How do you want them to remember you?