We all know it’s not what you know but who you know. But how do you get to know the people you need to know?
This is something that has long puzzled us. We’re all freelance journalists here and to keep getting work we know that we have to be good at our job otherwise we’d starve basically.
But we’ve wondered why – at points in our careers – we saw seeing others that are less than, or even just as talented as as, get work while we were left literally singing for our suppers.
A lot of journalists get work by networking, which means going out a lot, sending lots of emails, making phone calls and connecting to people via social media websites like Twitter and LinkedIn.
The thing is, we at Ella Mag don’t actually get time to go out, and we don’t have free time. If we do it’s spent doing housework, helping the children with their homework or looking after our parents.
So – as mums returning to work what can we do about making sure that we are on the top of editors’ ‘go-to’ freelance list.
And also what can other mums who like us freelance, do?
Should we forgoe our monthly wax appointment and employ a babysitter instead? Or do we accept that while we get enough work, as mums we are lucky enough to get the crumbs that the other (often single child-frere) freelancers leave behind.
Well we don’t want crumbs, we’d rather have a share of the slice thanks so we asked our favourite psychologist Kim Stephenson what he thought.
Kim is a great role model, he changed career, switching from financial advice to occupational psychology and has never looked back. E has a career which has involved writing books, appearing on TV, blogging and acting as an consultant for some of Britain’s largest companies.
We came across Kim because we sent out an alert on a financial journalist website service, and he was the only one to reply to our request.
So you could say an element of luck was involved.
Kim is not a fan of dropping everything to go to a drinks ‘do just in case you meet someone.
He says: ‘Would you trust somebody you’d just met, or would you prefer to deal with somebody you had seen a few times, who was reliable, consistent, remembered who you were and what you did and took an interest, but didn’t spend too long talking to you? I’ll find that if you do it right, you can get business straight away, but I rather doubt it.
Kim says: ‘Networking is a way of marketing, getting your “brand” out there. With a brand, you’re trying to get people to think of you first: it’s the old “don’t say vinegar, say Sarsons”, “beans means Heinz”, etc.
‘With networking you’re trying to get a lot of people to know you, what you do and when they have a need of what you do, have your name pop into their head by using personal links, rather than using millions of pounds of budget to get all sorts of people you’ve never met to buy your product .’
Step one: find a niche
Kim reckons we should find our niche – his is being an adviser who is also a psychologist.
‘It is beginning to work because peopl say “Kim is unique, the only person who is OP and financial advisor etc.”
So one thing is to try to find a niche, something that is you, that is your brand that you can get people to associate with you.
(For me I guess it would be I’m a financial journalist with news and internet editing plus blogging experience).
Step two: get out there
Kim says: ‘ Get yourself on lists and if someone contacts you try to find out where they got your name and thank the person.
Step three: have a brand
‘For networking, your brand is tricky if it takes more than 10 seconds or so to say, so get an elevator pitch. Being journalists, you and your friends should be good at that – as you know, I have trouble being concise!’
Step four: be available
Make sure you’re available – LinkedIn etc. are good, but trying to link to everybody and connect with everybody seems to be counter productive, you can have 10,000 “friends” on Facebook, but how many do you actually know anything about, or care about? So how many of them will know or care what you do and how well you do it? Networking tends to be more about quality of relationship, rather than just quantity, although you obviously want quantity as well – as long as it isn’t a case of having a collection of 1,000 business cards of people you don’t really remember and who don’t remember you.
Step five: be polite and consistent
Kim says: ‘Make sure you’re contactable and available, and, I think, if you’re going to try networking in a structured way, keep at it – don’t flit between different groups, tactics, locations etc. because you won’t have time to build many links unless you are exceptionally gifted.’
Kim is the author of Taming the Pound.