There’s an awful lot of white noise online. The first time I logged onto Twitter, way back in early 2007, I didn’t know what I was looking at, looking for or how I could even find my feet. It was like walking into a hot room where a party is in full swing. Everyone is talking, loudly, to eachother and you want to bolt and run rather than edge yourself into the conversation.
But edge our way in we must.
I work as a freelance writer and PR so I know as much as anyone else how the Internet can be a godsend and also a hindrance. There is so much out there, from job ads offering a measly $1 a word, to Copywriter classifieds which could lead to (kerching!) repeat business.
Like a homebrewer wanting to let the scum float to the surface to get to the good stuff, I need to filter out the people who are serious and those who just want content farms.
Sites like jobrapido and creativepool will send regular job ads based on your search words. After getting a few nonsensical ads you refine and hone your search criteria until you start getting hold of what you need. Once you get past all the websites offering essay-writing services you find out where the freelance writers live, on places like Journalist.com and Network Freelance.
But it’s staying in touch with your contacts that will help pick up the real business. Social Media, as well as helping you see more videos of cats and kittens than you ever thought possible, has proved to be the best filter. Both my Twitter and Linkedin are public (I kind of keep Facebook for that ‘screaming into the void’ stuff) and it helps me not only see what others are up and get ideas but I’m able to post news on what I’m doing; videos, articles, feedback, Retweets of comments by clients and colleagues talking about projects we doing. I see it as there being a constant buzz online. If I can direct at least some it back to me then job done. No one is going to stand on a box and tell everyone how good you are, you have to do it yourself.
Filtering social media, in essence what we do daily with Twitter, can work on a bigger scale when you’re looking for opportunities. I have about five columns open on Tweetdeck. OK, yes, I admit one is about Richard Armitage from Spooks, but the others are “freelance PR”, “freelance writing” and so on. There is a lot of dirge, but it’s better than the white noise and the odd lead does come up.
Then I just get involved in conversations. The lovely Zoe Brown (no relation) had her tweet retweeted by a writer I follow. I tweeted her and bish bash bosh here I am. No-one can see you blush from the other side of the keyboard. No-one can see you raise your hand to cover your eyes when you press send thinking “was that really a good idea?” Social Media allows you to project an image you might never have the confidence to do face to face, as well as get you infront of the right people who you might be able to work with.
But it’s also worth remembering people are filtering as well. As fascinating as your choice of tea for the morning might be to you (and your mother, obviously) who else is going to care, unless you’re Cheryl Cole or Taylor’s of Harrogate?
I hate to say it, because it sounds like something written in a fifties magazine telling women how to bag themselves a man, but in Social Media, sometimes you have to fake it to make it.
That guy you’re desperate to pitch to because you know you’ll be right for his business is into cars? Then get into cars. That woman who holds the key to every SME in your city is interested in walking holidays in the Lake District? Then, yup, so are you. Get inside the filter and you become part of their online bubble. It might just be a first introduction, it might not guarantee you get the job, but at least it means you get to know that person as a human being. It also helps show that you’re not a bot, that you’re not only a profile with a dashing picture but a human as well, capable of small talk, chat as well as running your own business and being a success.
Oh, and if you want me to write about you – cats, Italian cooking and Gene Kelly films, in that order.
Freelance writer/PR and Communications bod
@Finny23 on twitter Laura Brown on Linkedin