Monday, 12 March 2012

In the flow

I've spent most of my waking hours today sharing lunch with a friend of mine.  My friend asked if she could buy me lunch and pick my brains.  Naturally, I said yes.

Over some great food and coffee in one of my favourite Yarraville cafes (the Corner Shop) we spent a few hours talking about our skills and our experiences finding our way in the world as freelance multi-taskers. It's a compliment to be thought of as someone who has something worth sharing and is of value to another person on a similar path. The sharing flows both ways in a conversation like this.

I always find myself thinking about what I've done from a different angle as a result of one of these conversations.  Best of all, it helps me refine my thinking.  I usually know exactly why I've made particular decisions but being asked to articulate this can help sharpen the thinking and gain a different perspective on something.  All of this happened today - and more!

It's great to be in the flow.  You know, when things arise as you need them.  Introductions happen easily. Clients pay on time and refer you to other people. New opportunities land right in your lap. It feels like the ideas come to you.  After some turbulence a couple of weeks ago it feels great to be in the flow again.  Being out of the flow means getting bumped into, wearing a frown and feeling nervous about things.  This is not happy territory and therefore it isn't sustainable.

During the course of our conversation we turned to the subject of our blogs and social media presence.  We each had recommendations for the other to look up.  We both have been conscious about our online presence for a while, so we share a common language.  At one point we both realised we'd been talking about social media contacts as though they are real people...oh, hang on, they ARE real people.  So are we! Even if we've never met each other, there's still an awareness of who they are and what they know.

Yesterday I met a woman who had joined facebook last week.  We pondered this, imagining how different our freelance lives would be without platforms like our blogs, twitter accounts, linked in profiles and facebook pages.  And that's before we even start thinking about our websites and domain names.

There's a lot of discussion about the value of social media and whether it's helpful, healthy or a time waster.  The very strong theme of the discussion I had with my friend today was the notion of "reciprocity".  Here are my top reciprocity tips for creating "flow":

1. My personal practice with every referral I receive from a contact, is to take time to personally thank the person who made the referral - even if nothing concrete comes of it.  And if someone is taking time to forward your material on, say thank you! Appreciation costs nothing and builds goodwill.  Goodwill is another way to think of "the flow".

2. Find out about people in your networks.  Ask them what they offer.  You might not need their services, but someone who approaches you might be looking.  You'll be in a position to give them a referral.

3. Ask for testimonials after you've completed a piece of work.  Linked In makes this really easy to do.  Ask for permission to also publish the testimonial on your website.  People want to know that you can deliver.

4. Don't stand on the sidelines.  I have lots of conversations with people who tell me they don't understand Twitter.  I tell them the best way to learn about Twitter (or any social media) is to participate.  I usually hear that they've joined Twitter, but then they don't say anything - they want to "watch" for a while. Soon they close the account proclaiming that they don't get it and wonder what all the fuss is about. Social media is not for voyeurs.

If you're at the start of this journey, talk to people who are already doing it.  It's worth thinking strategically before you set everything up.  (I LOVE talking to people.)  And I'd love to hear your ideas!

How do you build goodwill and keep it flowing?

*My friend is a whizz at helping people (especially artists) maximise their web presence.  You can pay her a visit over at  Her "Top Tool Tuesday" posts are very handy.  Don't forget to tell her I sent you!

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