Things I've Learned About Freelancing

Ask More Questions

I was at a breakfast event recently along with a bunch of local businesses to see a speaker talking about the demographics and trends of the area as part of Melbourne and what the opportunities were for development. I met a woman who was part of a local traders association and immediately I thought it would be a good opportunity to find new clients.

I proceeded to tell her what I did and that I was looking for speaker opportunities or to put on workshops for small businesses. She didn’t say much so I continued to talk, saying that perhaps I could do some webinars so business owners wouldn’t have to physically get to the workshops. She said she didn’t think that was a good idea because many of the business owners didn’t speak very good English and they preferred to attend in person so they could ask questions directly. She gave me her card and I walked away thinking, “Gee she didn’t seem to be very open to me, I wonder what her problem is.”

Later I was reflecting on this interaction and came to a somewhat embarrassing realisation. I was so busy thinking about what I could get out of that conversation, I didn’t once step back and ask her what she thought, what were her observations, what were the pain points of her association, what did they NEED right now. Instead I pushed a whole lot of ideas on to her. Had I expected her mind to be blown with excitement? Yes. Was that in any way realistic, especially considering I had never met this woman before and she had no idea who I was? No.

My aim now is not to sell. It is to ask questions, perhaps share a few little insights based on their comments, but never to try to solve a problem or sell myself in a networking situation. The slow burn is often the most rewarding and it would help me to learn for the long term return as well.

Remember that “why?” is the most important question you can ever remember in any business context, both asking others and validating / understanding / challenging the answer, and asking it when any business decision is being made.