Leah Stephens found that by accepting her lack of confidence she was finally able to make a change.
A few weeks ago I received a notification on LinkedIn that a software engineer in my city had just viewed my profile. Getting notifications like that happens pretty regularly on LinkedIn and most of the time I just ignore the random people that look at my profile. I never know why they look. Are they just bored or are they genuinely looking to hire someone? Sometimes I return the favor and take a look at their profile. And in rare cases, I even send a message just to see what happens.
I always send an ultra human message, like “hey, thanks for the profile view. How did you find me?” People on LinkedIn seem genuinely shocked to receive a real message from a real person, so I usually get a response that is just as real. I don’t ask favors from strangers right away. That’s called spam. I ask people on LinkedIn questions, just for fun, because life can be terribly dull and predictable. LinkedIn is a stuffy place. I like to make it fun and make up my own LinkedIn rules.
Now, in the interchange below, I broke one of my own rules and asked right away if the guy’s company was looking to hire freelance writers. I usually don’t ask such direct questions, but I guess he caught me on a day that I was feeling unusually confident. Plus, on some days I like to break my own rules.
So, how did I turn a random profile view on LinkedIn by a stranger into a writing deal?
The software engineer guy who had visited my profile requested to connect even though I didn’t know him. After we connected, he endorsed one of my skills, Google Analytics. I initially thought that was a bit weird since I usually don’t endorse someone right away.
Here’s our conversation:
Me: Thanks for the Google Analytics endorsement. I’m actually a little rusty with my analytics. How did you find my profile? Just curious.
Guy: You’re welcome, I found your profile on a search. Don’t remember what, but you looked familiar so I clicked to see. Turns out I don’t think we’ve met smile emoticon Thought I knew you from KU.
Me: Ah ok, I’m a bit older than you, though. Does your company need any freelance writers or social media content creators? I’m looking to add some clients. I write for the Interesting Engineering website currently, which I love.
Nice to meet you.
Guy: You know we’ve tossed that idea around a bit, but I think we’re not quite ready to pull the trigger yet. When we do you’ll be the first in mind! Pleasure to meet you too!
Me: No worries! I just figured out this year what I’m really good at and how I work best: remote, with very little human interaction so I just mention what I’m looking for all the time now. (I’m sort of like a robot since I prefer to interact with machines instead of directly with people.) If I didn’t love creativity so much, I’d have gone into programming. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to figure out stuff. Anyway I like connecting with people in science and technology because my other business idea has something to do with that field.
Guy: I totally get that, there’s a reason I work with computers, too. I’m also just reaching out and connecting to everyone, because it always seems like the most surefire plans fall through and the most unlikely ones become something great smile emoticon. Although, exploring my creativity is my reason for programming. If you find yourself with free time, you should pick it back up. Corporate programming can be a drag, but breathing life into your own idea through code is very similar to painting, or music, or any of those other fine arts.
Me: Yes, I taught myself a little bit of programming a while ago. I probably will mess around with it again after I get some major things going…..I’m working on a couple things, writing books, etc. Yeah, I try to make connections all the time now. It’s important to do so.
I have to write some articles now.
Thanks for writing!
Guy: Sure thing, it was great chatting with you. Good luck with your new endeavor! When you love something, those efforts tend to work out.
When we nail down our message and need to reach out to someone to write on our behalf I’ll be sure to reach out to you first. Have a great day!
After this interchange this guy talked to his partner, who was the CEO of his company. The CEO then emailed me and told me what he was looking for. He gave me three documents and instructed me to write an article based on them.
Several days went by as I tried to understand what kind of writing he was looking for and the desired audience. I also was unsure of whether I wanted to put in any energy before figuring out a pay structure.
After three days, I decided to take a risk and just spend about an hour and a half writing an article for this CEO. I wrote one article for free based on the documents he sent me.
After he received the article via email, he invited me to a lunch meeting where I met him and his partner, the software engineer who initially looked at my profile.
We discussed our work methods, history and other general stuff in order to see if we might want to work together. I told him that I only work with people who gel with me. He expressed the same philosophy. We were definitely on the same page as far as our work philosophies. At the very tail end of the lunch, I brought up the topic of the specifics of writing articles. I told him that my rate was $50 per article. I asked how many articles they needed per month. We agreed that 15 would be about the right amount. The CEO said, “Give me a bulk deal.” So I decided $600 for 15 articles would be a deal. We shook hands and that was it. I write an article every other day for them.
After it was all over and I was driving home, I had that weird feeling I’ve experienced before during the luckier times in my life: “How the hell did I pull that off?”
The reason I was able to successfully pull this off is due to one trait: confidence. I’ve struggled for most of my life with the cultivation of this trait. I’m a perfectionist. I’m mostly unconfident, but this year, I decided that enough is enough. I’m giving confidence a try. I finally think I deserve what a lot of other people take for granted.
Leah Stephens is the author of Un-Crap Your Life. She’s also an artist, experimenter and founder of the Medium publication Into The Raw. Follow her on Twitter or Medium.