Monday, April 03, 2017

Are You Looking for Your NEXT Opportunity?

This past weekend I was in Lakeland, Florida speaking at a conference and meeting with writers. I love these opportunities to give back to writers, listen to their ideas and encourage them. At this event, I attended a number of amazing sessions from other speakers. Several of these speakers I have admired from a distance but never had the opportunity to meet face to face until attending this event.

When they finished their session, I made a point to connect with them personally for a few minutes, express my appreciation but also exchange business cards.  I asked for their card and if they did not have one (which happens often), I asked for their contact information.

Why take such actions? Because I want them to be able to reach out to me. Also if I have a need, I want to be able to reach them. As a consistent practice, I'm always looking for the next opportunity. These possibilities are everywhere. Are you sensitive to them? Are you seizing them when they come?

Here's five action steps for every writer:

1. Send a follow-up email right away. During the weekend, I reached out to one speaker and turns out he was working on a book proposal and promised to send it to me in a few weeks.

2. Be generous with your business cards and contact information. Ask for the contact information from others. Make sure they can reach you and you can reach them. For example, I included my contact information on my handouts.

3. Always be looking and open to the possibilities. There are many different types of opportunities. Sometimes the opportunity is to write and other times it is to speak. The director of the conference this past weekend, I met a year ago at one day event in Orlando with the Florida Writers Association. You have to be open to various possibilities and see what happens. 

4. If possible, respond right away to the idea. Send email, respond to their emails, etc. We are in the communication business. The reality is that few people communicate—so if you do, you will stand out.

5. Express gratitude to others. I can't emphasize enough the importance of gratitude. We live in a thankless world where few people express gratitude. You will stand out and have other opportunities if you express gratitude. Did someone give you a book? I received on this past weekend. I will be writing this author a personal thank you note.

Bonus Action Step: When you see that you've let an opportunity slip past you, take action on it after the fact and see what happens. If you do nothing, then nothing will happen but if you do something then something may happen. 

I've had authors send me their book proposal and submission years after we first met (yes years). As an acquisitions editor, I continue to look for new authors and book projects every day. When this author sent her book, I was still looking and she ended up publishing her book with Morgan James and now it is out into the bookstore. I'm sure this author hesitated to reach out to me months after we first met—yet she still took action and it paid off.

As writers, we must seize the opportunities which come across our path. You never know where your next opportunity will take you.


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