I went to high school with one of my brothers, Steve, who is just two years older than me. Here’s a classic scenario from those good old days at Clayton High: I’m standing at my locker – talking, flirting, what have you with some boy that had trouble written all over his face (and body) – and from out of nowhere, Steve appears.
“What’s going on here?” He would bellow. “Are you okay? Is he bothering you?”
I’m not kidding.
He drove me crazy and the boys away. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized this protection wasn’t actually a bad thing. I mean, what a concept? Someone watching out for you, able to swoop in just when you need them…hmmm, sounds oddly like a comic book I read somewhere…
How does it translate to being a freelance copywriter? Who’s got your back in the social media realm? The answer really speaks to the beauty of networking and being a genuine part of the conversation.
Because of social media, there are actual places you can go to be around people that understand your situation – like a local writer or tech listserve, a mom’s network such as Mom Bloggers Club or your own blog that builds community with conversation, comments and subscriptions/feeds. You can also cast your net somewhere like Twitter where word of mouth is fast and the conversation is faster. My experience with all of these examples is that most of the people using them are incredibly helpful, supportive and there to connect.
These people will help you navigate new proposals, pricing, finding the perfect word, tech breakdowns…and you’ll do the same for them.
When you participate in any networking group, online or off, you build relationships, and you make an impression. The quality of your relationships will span the range. There will be those you won’t get along with at all. Some people will actually become really good friends, trusted colleagues. And, you’ll find everything in between – acquaintances, fast & powerful encounters, steady contacts. As do most experiences, it’s got the makings of the classic bell curve.
Strong connections will be made with the most unlikely characters because the usual filters (class, clothes, environment, location, culture, etc.) aren’t present. No one is to be discounted (unless they behave badly) because you can’t predict where the jewels will be found.
Pay attention to the people that become the really good friends, the trusted colleagues, because they’re the ones that have your back. They’ll notice a typo in your last post, they’ll tell you what ‘LMAO’ means, they’ll be there if you need to share really bad news or really good news, they’re supportive – they’re real because you’ve been real with them. And, it’s likely, if required, they’ll show up at your locker and by your side.