Your peers are as important, if not more important, than your paying customers. Peers offer a huge support for your freelance writing career. They can help boost your business, bring in clientele, get you out of a sticky spot, offer advice, suggest improvements, lift your morale and provide that break you need for success.
So how are you treating them? Are you enjoying their company and making friends? Or are you condescending to them, showing off or being the know-it-all? Worse, are you coming off as the snotty diva, the argumentative witch or the arrogant SOB?
You could be, and that’s a problem. If you alienate your peers, you won’t get any of that good stuff they offer.
You see, people like to help those who help them first. The friendly, hardworking, open-minded writer is typically always going to get ahead more with both potential clients and with peers than the writer who puts sticks in wheels, takes people down a peg, and gives them a hard time.
You know the ones. You’ve probably seen a few yourself. You read a blog post you enjoy, skim down the comments and then… “Oh man. Not that person again.”
When you get that feeling, you have two courses of action: Work with them, or work against them. Choose carefully indeed.
Leave a comment that seems overly sharp, condescending or argumentative, and suddenly you don’t come off as an expert – you come off as a troublemaker. Heated comments or barbed tones quickly cause conflict in the community that may leave you looking like the bad guy, and that damages a reputation quickly.
That’s not what you want. Your comments should always clearly convey you’re a buddy trying to help – even when you don’t agree with the person.
Instead of trying to trip the person up, opt for another route. Agree with some part of what the person has stated, so that you show unity of some sort. Get the person on your side, or at least enough so that he or she will listen to your view.
At the same time, suggest an alternative course of action as if you’re just tossing the idea out there. Just some friendly advice. We’re all in this together, right? That way, your peers will think more highly of you and your views provide assistance instead of blunt disagreement.
Here’s another area to be careful with: using controversy to inspire blog posts.
It’s great to disagree with a post you’ve read, and it’s good to present the opposite side, but how you do it makes all the difference. Do it the wrong way, and your post comes off as finger pointing and nasty. Do it the right way, and you just created a friendly debate that everyone benefits from.
One of the best ways I’ve seen to present your views without creating a bad rap or causing a rift with peers is the tactic of agreeing to disagree. Send a quick email to the author and mention that you’d like to debate his or her post. Point out that it’ll be a fun, friendly experience, and that you want to make it a proactive situation for readers.
A blogging debate provides other people with a helpful double shot of opposing views and information that lets readers choose what they feel is best for them.
Remember that you want to increase positive associations with you and your business so that people always think well of you and see you in a good light, whether they’re potential customers or peers. Choose your words well, and convey the best attitude you can.
Want to know just why your peers are important to your business success? Check out The Unlimited Freelancer. It’ll teach you the tricks you need to know to get ahead with your peers – and your clients.
Yolander Prinzel says
Since so many of us communicate via electronic means only, it can be difficult to get the friendliness across unless you use a smiley face:) in every sentence :). Even simple matter of fact writing can come off condescending when it wouldn’t if the same sentence had been said aloud by the commenter. Also, sarcasm is sometimes really hard to pull off in such a small space. Do you have any thoughts about how to avoid reading too much into comments 🙂 😛 ;)? All these friendly emoticons are making me tired :/
On the subject of mingling with your freelancing peers, professional writing organizations may sound like a sensible choice. Unfortunately, there is a big hurtle to overcome in joining one of these networking groups — strict membership rules.
While you may have been drawn toward the professional groups while in college with possibility of scholarships, internships and lots of professional contacts, please hesitate a moment and read ALL the fine print.
1. The professional-level memberships have very strict employment guidelines and expensive membership dues. So, if you are starting a small writing business or freelancing, you may be dropped from group as soon as you finish up college as you haven’t landed a ‘big enough’ job yet. This can have horrifying effects on your contacts from the group and later job prospects. Face it, some cities have such a small number of writing & marketing jobs, you need a ‘day job’ for a while to pay the bills. These professional organizations will drop side freelancers sometimes.
2. The scholarships are NEVER needs based. I would NEVER share any personal information about why you are working on a second degree or restarting your career or it could come back to haunt you, especially any mental care. Stigma from ANY mental care or receipt of disability support payments will RUIN your credibility in any professional circles & put your competence for any job in question. If you try to fight to keep your membership with the group by explaining anything, it could haunt you in any work situation.
3. You may run into some dirty competition in these groups, which is terrible situation if you are using the group to get media contacts arranged for your PR job. If you wish to see things positively, you will know who you don’t want to work with. But, I highly recommend you keep your employment information private if you are just getting started so your clients will not be cultivated or stolen.
4. Tact is not being displayed in these situations unfortunately as multiple complaints have surfaced from outed members. Rules are not being applied to all. It is very likely, you could be confronted about the ‘membership fine print’ in a room full of members, some of which will act hostile even to a person they have known for years and even if you have been very involved in the organization.
I think it best you know all the fine print before you accept the ‘professional group’ undertaking to avoid any negative impact on your employment. ***You may re-run this comment as you like.****