I've noticed a troubling divide among self-employed editorial professionals in how they approach finding work with new clients and responding to requests to share knowledge with other editorial pros.
Those on the sad side of this divide won't reach out actively, through e-mails, phone calls, or tweets, to potential new clients, fearing that clients encountered this way are likely to be unsavory fly-by-nights who are trying to get work done for little to no pay. Instead, they complain on profession-related e-mail lists that they don't have enough work and ask where there are web sites that will dole out projects to them. I suppose that they also find the prospect of marketing their services and hunting down clients a bit overwhelming, so they want someone or something to feed them projects. I wonder how they can afford to remain self-employed.
Those on the sad side are also parsimonious with their colleagues. They won't give advice, in person or on e-mail lists, much less on LinkedIn, when asked for it, fearing that their colleagues are merely competitors and will use their advice to steal their clients. They're astounded that anyone would freely share advice, believing that the only way to be a productive editorial pro is to not "waste" time communicating with other pros.
I'm not saying to ignore your common sense and instincts when dealing with potential clients and with colleagues. And I'm not advocating giving away all of your trade secrets. I'm talking about having a little trust.
It comes down to worldview. Do we view humans as most often decent? Or do we view them as creatures to be wary of because they're more likely than not to do us harm? I hold the former view, and I'm most often rewarded for it. I've found that whenever I begin any interaction from a stance of wariness, without having any signals to base that wariness on, I have a poor experience. This holds true for me with both potential clients and newly met colleagues, however I've first come into contact with them.
Which side of the divide are you on, and why?
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