As a writer, you need to ask yourself this question. How many people do I talk to each day? Think about the answer. Do you talk to people at a day job? Those you encounter at the market? At the gym?
All of those people represent opportunities.
This weekend, I attended the local fall festival. In the course of one night (roughly four hours), I spoke at length with:
- a fellow who helps run a haunted house for an nonprofit organization
- a man who refurbishes furniture
- a beekeeper
- a man and wife who run a wildlife sanctuary filled with everything from raccoons to grizzly bears and tigers
- the owners of a photography studio
As my husband will tell you, I like to talk. About anything. About everything. If I’ve just met you, I will still talk to you like I’ve known you my entire life. I have the gift of gab.
What does this mean to a writer? Look at my list up there. In four short hours, I connected with a wide variety of people. What kind of writing opportunities did I gain? Let’s take a look.
For starters, I found a list of experts to add to my roster of people to interview in a pinch. For instance, if I want to write an article about dressing up furniture from a yard sale, I can chat up the fellow in the refinishing business. If I need and expert on tiger behavior, a quick email to the animal sanctuary may net me just the interview I need. The same goes for the rest of the folks I spoke to. Plus, I’ve already talked to them once, so when I contact them in the future I have two things going for me.
1. I’ve eliminated the dread Interview Stage Fright. While we may not be best pals, I’ve eliminated the fear of the unknown. I know who they are, what their personalities are like and if they would be a good interview source for me.
2. THEY know ME. Yes, I realize they don’t know-know me, but here’s the thing. When I call or email for an interview, I can say: “Hi, I talked to you at your booth during the festival. I’m writing a piece about ___. I’d love to interview you for an expert opinion.” People who are being interviewed often suffer from the same stage fright as an interviewer. Knowing me in advance, even if it’s just a brief friendly conversation at a festival booth is often enough to take that edge off and make them less hesitant to have a future conversation.
In addition to adding experts to my writing/interviewing roster, I’ve also laid the groundwork for possible writing assignments. People who own and run businesses need writing done. Nonprofit organizations need grant writers and people to compose letters asking for donations. Maybe these people do the work themselves and are looking for someone to do it better. Maybe they are looking for someone RIGHT NOW. Offering services, and passing along a business card costs you pennies, but could allow you to reap giant returns in the long run.
How many people have you talked to today? Are you missing the chance to turn a gift of gab into writing opportunities?