What’s the best way to start and grow a service-oriented business? While I embrace technology and use social media to promote my business, the way I am growing the influence of Worldwide Editing is the old-fashioned way: meeting people and through referrals.
This approach works for me because I work at the C-Suite level. The decision makers I want to reach, or the people who advise them, for the most part aren’t on social media. For one thing, they’re too busy. For another, their security teams most likely advise them against it. There’s too great a chance of exposing themselves or their families to risk – something I’ve written a lot about for a global risk management company based on the West Coast.
An example of what I am talking about occurred tonight. I was at a launch party for a new magazine in Atlanta’s Buckhead entertainment and business district. The magazine is one I freelance for on occasion. The first person I saw was a communications executive for a statewide utility in Georgia. He told an executive from a major Atlanta law firm with an office in Europe who joined our group that I had just done a job for him that morning. “Tom turned the project quickly on a tight deadline,” he said. “Give me your card,” she replied, turning to me. “There are times when I need a writer like you.”
This was not a fluke. I was in Taiwan with a group of international journalists at the invitation of the Taiwan government several years ago. We were invited to Taiwan to write about an international flower show in Taipei. One of the people in our group was the editor of the Life & Arts section of the Financial Times. It’s a paper based in London that I would love to write for. So far it hasn’t worked out. But, it’s worth remembering what the editor told me in Taipei. “Having met you, I think you would do a good job for us. Frankly, if I’d just received an email from you without having met you I wouldn’t have even opened it.”
Isn’t it amazing that in this world of instant communication across oceans and hemispheres, face-to-face meetings and a handshake are still the best way to get new business. Somethings, it seems, are timeless.