There are many days, sometimes in a single week, where I have to get a hold of my negative thoughts, build myself up (yet again), and tell myself that I can do it. When things get tough, I’m always tempted to sit down at my computer and “theorize” my writing job—that is, THINK about it abstractly and try to figure out how to make things work better from a technical standpoint. But the truth is, you can only think about things for so long before you start going in circles. At some point, you’ve got to convince yourself to ACT.
Networking is one road block for me that I’ve had to learn to face head-on. I’m not a natural salesperson, nor am I always interested in meeting loads of new people, so finding the motivation to get out there and sell myself has been a challenge at times. Yet, I have known all along that networking is a requirement for success in the freelance world, and that knowledge has helped (forced, rather) me to change the way I do things.
I think the biggest networking breakthrough came when I realized the huge difference a little attitude adjustment can make. When I choose to simply ignore my hesitations—fear of rejection, appearing foolish or naïve, or making mistakes—and focus on the task at hand (that is, putting projects on my plate, money in my pocket, and more impressive pieces in my portfolio), networking becomes almost second nature.
Ignoring these things isn’t easy at first. There are always those voices inside you that question your worth and overemphasize how terrible criticism can be. Yet, the more you practice combating those negative voices and replacing them with positive ones, the faster you become more comfortable in your skin. And since confidence is eye-catching, there’s a good chance that people will take greater notice of you and help you get where you want to go.
I’ve had a few months to practice networking (and confidence) now, and I can tell you that it has become surprisingly enjoyable for me. And I’m not nearly as bad at it as I originally thought. I’ve found that when I allow myself to stop caring about people’s opinions of me, the pressure of the situation diminishes and my creative self comes alive. All of a sudden, marketing my business is fun—almost addicting. And networking, in general, is a way to enjoy great company, learn something valuable from others, and share some of my own insights.
I wouldn’t have discovered all this if I hadn’t thrown myself—completely unwillingly—out there and given myself a chance to prove I was capable. It was hard, I admit. Even a few months ago, I didn’t think I liked people enough to interact with them this much. But I do! And the more I talk with people, the easier it gets. Best of all, the more I talk, the better I understand and can communicate that I AM worth people’s time, and money.
It’s always great to have support from those around you, but the best kind of support you can have when building a business is yourself. Learn to make friends with the person inside you, and you’ll always have someone to turn to for guidance and inspiration.