I´ve always found it easy to talk and introduce myself to strangers, be it a single person or a room full of people. I realise that´s not the case for everybody and, as bravely posted on Writer´s Round-About, some people find it extremely hard if not terrifying. This can be a real problem for us writers, fiction and professional ones alike. For those of you who know what I´m talking about, here are a few bits of advice from yours truly.
1. MIND YOUR MANNERS
This may seem silly. Why would I need to bring that up? Isn´t it pretty much given? Yes. Yes it is. The thing is, manners don´t mean the same thing for everybody, in every situation. When nerves are added to the equation, things might end up a catastrophe.
What I know I don´t need to tell you is: be polite. Of course you are. What I might have to remind you of is: don´t be too polite. What you have to offer, what you want to bring into this person´s life, is more than fits in a line of “hello, how do you do, very nice to meet you”. Introducing life-changing products, as I´m sure you and your writing are, takes more dramatic measures.
I´m not talking about dancing on tables. I´m talking about what good manners tell you to include in your introduction.
Your name is a good start, but not enough. You will want to include your profession, since that is what you really want to introduce this person to. Your work, right? You will also want to include a reason why you introduce yourself to precisely this person. Random mass-marketing stuff isn´t going to cut it in a one-on-one. Tell this person what it was about him/her that made you want to contact them personally.
2. BELIEVE IN YOUR OWN VALUE
The easiest things to advocate are things you truly, honestly believe are going to help the person you´re talking to. Things you either have fantastic personal experience of or believe in your heart are the right things for this person. When you introduce such things to people, you don´t have to think up arguments, you don´t have to conjure a list of pros to throw all the cons out the window. It comes naturally, and your enthusiasm is a bigger persuasion technique than anything you´ll ever learn to master. You don´t only know what makes the product so great, you feel it in your bones.
Once you believe that way in your own work and talents, speaking for it is a lot easier. It´s all about confidence. It doesn´t have to be outwards, you can be the shyest person on the planet and still have enormous confidence in the quality of your work. If you don´t, you can learn to acquire it, but that´s a different topic for another day.
3. DON´T PUSH (TOO HARD)
If you feel your person back away, begin to remove themselves from the conversation, let them. Don´t follow. That usually comes off more like stalking than determination. This is just as true online as in person.
You got a short, impersonal reply and a “don´t call me, I´ll call you”? That´s okay. You left your contact info in your introduction, right? (If not, send a short note of something like “here is my information in case you wish to contact me” and relevant contact info below).
Later on, after some time has passed (give it at least a couple of months I´d say), you can send a new letter, a reminder of you and your product and perhaps adding a new point to your case, preferably something relevant to the person.
When you don´t know the people you are trying to get to, gentle nudging is the best way to go. More aggressive approach might work better on someone, but if you don´t know for sure… it´s risky. But then, sometimes you need just that. So if you feel okay with it, skip this last piece if advise and go straight to…
4. TAKE A CHANCE
There are really, really many people in the world. I mean, really many. No shortage there of at all. If you don´t get through to someone, look for the next and keep trying. Don´t be discouraged by rejection, it´s a part of this kind of work. A big part, as you probably know.
You should try your very best each and every time. It´s the only way you´ll ever be okay with yourself and your efforts. Believe me, losing something and knowing you didn´t try your best… is awful.
This applies directly to your introduction. Be brave. Tell that guy you´ve read every single post of his since 2002. Tell him you love his writing voice and that you´d kill for a chance to partner with him on this project you´ve been thinking about…
So what if he might think you´re weird and awkwardly pull away? He might be flattered and get caught up in your enthusiasm long enough to agree to a meeting or a chat. You won´t know unless you try.
5. BE YOUR OWN HERO
We all need one from time to time, someone to step up and make tough situations easier. When the tough situation is an introduction we might get lucky and have someone handle it for us. “Mike, this is Dave. Dave is a talented fiction writer with years of copy writing experience under his belt. He is just the right guy for your company/blog/etc.”
A more likely turn of events is that you are going to need to handle this bit yourself. Don´t wait for “just the right moment”, just go. You know what you want this person to know.
Go be your own hero.