Back a few years ago, I quit writing articles. I was burned out, feeling like a hamster-writer on a wheel of articles that changed from month to month. Something needed to change, but I wasn’t sure what. All I knew was that I’d lost the passion.
I wrote a few articles between then and now, but nowhere near the volume I’d been at. This year, though, as I start to build my business back up, I see what was missing: human connections.
Previously my model was this: have an assignment, research and contact potential sources, stress when I didn’t hear back, follow up, sometimes find new ones. From month to month, it was lather, rinse, repeat.
Not until I reconnected with my now-collaborator did I start to get a clue. It wasn’t just because he’d kept in touch with me over the years and we’d built up a rapport. As he connected me with his contacts, I started to see how he incorporated humanness into his work.
It only starts with doing a good job, being someone whom everyone else can trust with work. The rest of it is about being a good person: asking about other people’s lives, sharing values. That’s how we came to be friends. And it’s a key component of Chris Brogan‘s advice about building professional networks.
As I move forward with my revitalized freelance career, I’m focusing on relationships, seeking out people with whom I can have long-term contact. I didn’t think about this before, but when I was dating – and even as a friend – I was, and am, extremely picky. I don’t want to waste time trying to bond with people who will end up being transient in my life, about whom I can sense this transience right from the get-go.
I’m sure I’ll continue to talk to people who will indeed be short-term contacts, but they won’t be the bulk of my business anymore. My core group, my collaborator(s) and their close connections, will be the people I’ll turn to first, the people I trust and – I hope, at least eventually – can use for a sounding board. As a freelancer, this might be the most important change I’ve ever made to my business model.