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Why you should let people know what you’re doing

This morning, I received an email from an editor with whom I work frequently. She was asking if I could recommend some colleagues whose area of expertise involved both travel and music, as she has a short front-of-book assignment available.

Two people came to mind immediately, Paul and Michelle, and then a third, Alex.  All three are qualified to write the piece, so I passed their names and contact information along to the editor. One of them will be given the assignment, earning a new publication credit and a few hundred dollars. It’s not unlikely that they’ll be offered a future assignment with the same publication, which has been pretty loyal in my experience.

Why did Paul, Michelle, and Alex all come to mind? I know what they’re doing. I know their interests and their  niches, where they’ve been published, and what they have to offer.

Paul, Michelle, and Alex all do something I hope you’re doing–and if you’re not, I hope you’ll start today: They let people know what they’re doing and they do so in different but totally authentic and unobnoxious ways. Here’s how.

PAUL:  Paul seems to live what he loves and vice versa without any artifice whatsoever. Check out his Facebook status and he’s riffing about how sweet life is as he’s eating a piece of cake, typing an assignment in his pajamas, and listening to music. Only he doesn’t say “I’m listening to music.” He says, “I’m listening to legendary jazz drummer and sound explorer Steve Reid, a quintessential NY musician with an incredible CV and one of the best laughs and positive life attitudes I’ve ever encountered.” Pretty specific, pretty compelling, and pretty convincing. His most recent Facebook update? “Just taught my two year old to say ‘Vinyl.’ It’s important to get the essentials of any language down right from the start.” Do you get it? The guy lives music.

Paul uses Twitter and his blog to emphasize his cred without being self-pimping. I like that and I’m always going to keep my eyes open for something that might be useful to Paul.

MICHELLE: Michelle’s Matador author  bio tells you exactly what her interests are:

Michelle is a musician, writer, and teacher just trying to see the world while doing what she loves for a living. After a fantastic year in Salvador, Brazil, she is now teaching ESL in South Korea with her husband and chocolate lab. In addition to traveling and writing, Michelle plays the steel drum in several bands and is an aspiring novelist. She’s addicted to coffee and loves trying new food, the spicier the better.

and her published articles back all that up, as does her blog. When I forwarded her name to the editor, I included links to three relevant articles she’d written about travel and music for Matador, including:

Essential Gear for the Traveling Musician

and

5 Things You Should Know When Traveling With Musical Instruments

and

12 Small Musical Instruments for Travel
ALEX: I don’t work with Alex and we’re not in touch frequently, so he wasn’t the first person to come to mind, though he’s eminently qualified for this assignment; in fact, it’s tailor made for someone like him. I met Alex on a press trip in Brazil and spent hours talking with him about his main loves: travel, music, and photography. His travel music articles have been published in Nat Geo, Songlines, and Mondo Mix; he’s also a guidebook writer (he wrote and shot Footprints’ Brazil guide).
As far as I know, Alex doesn’t do the whole Facebook-Twitter-social media thing, but he does update his blog once in a blue moon. When he does, he lists recent and current projects, and I follow along, observing how his interests and his career are developing.
**
The point isn’t for you to emulate Paul, Michelle, or Alex, but to find your own ways to let people know what you’re up to without being self-serving about it. Convey passion for what you do and convey it consistently, and people will remember you. And they’ll reach out to share contacts and opportunities when they can.

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13 responses »

  1. You make such an important point here. THIS is why social networking can help you get jobs. It’s why Facebook is more than just keeping in touch with friends. Because while we make and keep contacts for fun, every one of them has the potential to turn into a job.

    Reply
    • Alexis- Exactly! And it’s also why we should always be attentive to the messages we’re broadcasting about ourselves. Even if we’re using Facebook “just for fun,” there are people always listening.

      Reply
  2. Good advice, Julie. The “not self-serving”-part is very important, though – or the result could be just the opposite…

    Reply
    • Sophie- Definitely. Not in this particular case, but there are other instances where someone who might have been capable came to mind but I didn’t recommend them because they just seemed too self-serving.

      Reply
  3. Hi Julie, what a great article. You are such a great teacher. Honest and authentic lessons here! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  4. Such a good lesson, and one I don’t think can be repeated often enough…. be honest about who you are, in all that you do. The people I remember most easily are the ones that allowed me to see their most genuine self.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Trisha. I suppose we’re talking about the most authentic type of branding, right?

      Reply
      • Yes, absolutely! As writers, our reputation is the most important part of our brand, even more so than it is for companies, because the world of publishing is smaller than most would believe.

        If our writing needs work, we can always strive to improve it, but if we get a bad rep for being disingenuous, that’s what sticks with editors and others, and can be almost impossible to overcome.

  5. solid advice, Julie – thanks!

    Reply
  6. Really great advice, Julie. I often find myself not talking about music stuff in travel writing/blogging, but that compartmentalizing is not conveying the whole of my passions. Thanks again for this article!

    Reply
    • Nancy- That’s an excellent example. We’re constantly encouraged to compartmentalize because (supposedly) somehow people will find it difficult to accept our full range of interests. Yet I’d like to think that we’re all a little bit more complex and fascinating than just a single aspect of ourselves might lead anyone to believe.

      Reply
  7. Pingback: How to use social media to look for a job « The Traveling Writer

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