12 replies
  1. Cathy Miller
    Cathy Miller says:

    I received a referral from someone I used to work with in my corporate days. She told me her boss was looking for a writer and she gave her my name. Her boss actually contacted me the same day. I responded to her email questions. After no response, I followed up. When following up, I like to use the phrase, let me know if you have decided to go another route. It takes any pressure off and I would rather know something than hear nothing at all.

    She responded, letting me know she definitely wanted to move forward but was in the midst of a major project. To make a long story short (or shorter), 😉 I kept in regular contact and secured a phone call to discuss her needs.

    Turns out she was gun-shy from a bad experience with a marketing agency who redesigned their website. She was happy with that but very disappointed with other copy as they did not understand the industry.

    It went silent again. I hate that I still have this little voice (who I’d love to strangle) who always has me equating silence with some problem with me. I followed up again and joked that she should let me know if her plans had changed so I could stop stalking her. She now refers to me as her favorite stalker.

    Yep, I got the gig, and meet with her in a couple of weeks to discuss a retainer for 2017. From initial contact to finally drafting my first copy for her took four months. For me, the biggest lesson is silencing that Doubting Thomas inner voice, and accepting that it isn’t always about me (shocking, I know). Sometimes people really are that busy and their copywriting project may get pushed to the side even when they really want it done.

  2. Peter Bowerman
    Peter Bowerman says:

    Great story, Cathy (and sorry for the delay in responding – got a bit caught up in all the excitement of the past few days…;) And congrats on the gig!

    This is exactly what I’m talking about. And I’m dealing with that right now, in fact, with a new client. Guy calls me on a Friday afternoon, interested in talking about a project. We have a great chat, and he’s going to send me some stuff.

    Late Monday comes, and nothing yet, so I reach out, and say a lot of the same things you said, “Just following up…figured you’d gotten pulled into the work vortex…let me know if you’ve gone in a new direction, etc., etc.”, and next thing I know he calls me, apologizing, and we’re back on track.

    AND, just like yours, he’s disappeared again (we’re at present day now), but I’ll reach out to him today again with a nudge—which the good clients appreciate!—and I’m pretty certain things will move along again.

    And I absolutely agree with your takeaway: It’s usually NOT about you; it’s about them and their crazy, over-scheduled work lives. WHICH is one of the key reasons they reached out to you in the first place: They don’t have the time or expertise to do it themselves.

    Any other good follow-up stories??

  3. Peter Bowerman
    Peter Bowerman says:

    Thanks, Brad, and true enough!

    What it takes to become a successful freelancer is not for the faint of heart, and sometimes you DO need to push it a little. I believe “Fortune favors the bold” is the expression..;)

  4. Star
    Star says:

    Not sure if this is a good example, but I used to be pretty good at suggesting other things I could do for clients…OK, I admit it–upselling. But I have mixed feelings because now I HATE being upsold. Karma? On Peter’s example, I would not have mentioned the butt-dial but would have said, “You came up on Caller ID–are you ready to talk about your project or would another time be better?

  5. Peter Bowerman
    Peter Bowerman says:

    Yes, Star, that certainly would have been another way to handle it! And more tactfully, I suppose…;)

    And, as noted, I felt pretty confident that it wouldn’t be totally blown off, given that she had contacted me initially.

    Most importantly, I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I care less about about what people think. Don’t mean to suggest I think it’s fine to be abrasive or anything, just wiling to take more chances.

  6. Lori
    Lori says:

    I guess I’m much more fearless these days as well, Peter. I’m older, wiser, and can’t be bothered to waste time. Definitely a good thing for a small business owner!

    One successful follow-up was a Twitter contact I’d only just connected with. I sent him a quick note of thanks, and added “If you find yourself in need of a writer who gets what you do, I’d welcome a conversation.”

    Within minutes, he said “Actually, that’s why I connected with you.”

    Boom. Money in the bank.

    Had I shut up, he may never have had the courage to reach out.

    Then there was the connection on LinkedIn by a local company. I thanked the marketing director, and said I was looking forward to talking shop with her sometime. She wrote back two days later, hired me a week later.
    Boom. More money in the bank.

    And of course, there have been those clients who reach out, and two months later I think “Oh crap.” I didn’t put them on my follow-up list. I do follow up when I remember, but there have been times the silence is deafening.

    One thing I’ve learned about following up is this: do so with confidence. If you go in desperate to win the client, you’re going to sound desperate. They smell fear. 😉 Also, I go into conversations with questions and with a tape recorder running and a pen poised. It’s a fact-finding mission, not just a negotiation. I want to appear to be on their side and already working.

  7. Peter Bowerman
    Peter Bowerman says:

    Great stuff, Lori!

    And good social-media success stories to boot. Did you originally follow him or vice versa? And did the local company request the LI connection, or did you reach out to them initially? Always interesting to see how these things unfold.

    You’re absolutely right about the desperation! We’ve all been in slow periods and it’s easy to come across that way without even knowing it. So, when you’re in one of those lean times, it’s always best to do a gut-check on your “bearing” before reaching out!

    Thanks for weighing in!

  8. Star
    Star says:

    Just because I probably would not accuse a prospect of sitting on their phone as an opener (unless I knew they would laugh) does not mean I am not more fearless as an oldie. In fact, I coined the term “Post-Cool”—even had a coffee mug made, which my cousin ended up wanting.

  9. Anne Wayman
    Anne Wayman says:

    I’m with you, Peter, Cathy and Lori… and Star… I might have called it a pocket call. But clients can turn up anywhere – and I think it is up to us to reach out them… good post.

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