Writers commonly are introverts. We thrive on solitude, but we’re not necessarily anti-social and can hold our own just fine when we need to network. There is an art to small talk, to learning about a person and finding common ground to keep a conversation going. Yet the introvert draws energy from being alone while an extrovert draws energy from socializing in a group of people (likely some are introverts having the life sucked out of them.)
It turns out that there is a whole lot of talking, researching and relationship-building to be done before I can put a single word to page. Despite my drive to succeed and my writing skills (both above-average, in my estimation), it eventually comes down to someone taking a chance to let me write their story.
It’s not enough to believe in yourself. You also have to do for yourself. I have to shake the hand, look in the eye, smile, and say, “I am a freelance writer. I write the story you need to tell while you focus on your business.” I use this line and other versions, and end by putting a business card in their hand.
That, friends, is selling. And it can be exhausting.
I have shaken a dozen or more hands over the past three Saturday sessions of the small business workshop series presented by SCORE of Rochester. Sixteen other student-attendees and I are there to figure out how to make our small business idea into a reality (read as: how not to have an expensive hobby). All of us are working the room.
A pet spa, a marina resort, a craftsman of custom high-end pens, a chef-turning-restaurateur, a marketer, a precision machinist – each of us has a dream. Is that enough? Are having the great idea and drive to succeed enough?
Do I have the skills?
Do I know who my customer is?
Do I know how to reach them?
Who else is doing the same thing? How am I better at it than them?
Attending these SCORE sessions serve a dual purpose – the “how-to” guide of small business launching and the art of selling your business product or service. I return home from these sessions exhausted. My introvert psyche has been on overdrive, and I have needed a nap after each three-hour Saturday morning session. I mean, needed a nap. “Lie down or fall down” kind of need.
I do have the skills.
I am figuring out who my customer is and how to reach them.
There are other freelance writers out there. Some of us are marketers. We are all telling stories.
How am I better? “Better” may be subjective, but I know this much is true: Words are important to me. Clear and effective communication is important to me. But first I have to listen to the whispers of the world and the people around me to find the story. Even if all that listening exhausts me.