It’s awkward, being your own business, whether as a freelancer or a writer trying to build an audience, because the rules of the social world scrape against the rules of making a living.
It’s a bit, well, douchey, in general, to go around bragging about yourself, name dropping, or asking people to tell you how awesome you are.
In business, this is building your reputation, listing your past clients, and asking for recommendations.
Our personal selves cringe at asking for recommendations. Yet our careers demand it.
Clients want to know what they’re getting when they hire us.
I had to make the recommendation above happen. I asked KJ for it. She asked me to draft it. Talk about cringe, but I used things she’d said to me. I followed up and pushed through, because getting a great recommendation is a kind of opportunity. It resulted in a business asset.
Client references boost your credibility and differentiate you from competition. The more high-profile the client, the more valuable the reference. I faced the awkward in the name of future opportunities to work for people as incredible as Kirsten Jordan.
Here’s a challenge: right now, email someone and ask for a reference.
A well-rounded reference should include:
- Specificity: Details about the projects you worked on together, including the length and scope.
- Positivity: Positive feedback highlighting your strengths and contributions.
- Relevance: Information relevant to your work.
- Trustworthiness: A statement that this person vouches for your character.
- Delight: The sense that you’re a pleasure to work with.