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Advanced Networking for Freelance Writers

2013 CES show floor

Trade shows are a business phenomena. No matter what the industry, thereís a trade show and at least one magazine talking about industry topics. Some industries have multiple trade shows going on all year long in different locations. At these tradeshows youíll get a sneak peek at next yearís new products and processes.

Your most valuable resource is discretely tucked into a corner: The press room. Peek inside the door youíll see foot weary editors lounging, eating donuts and drinking acidic coffee or sipping herbal tea. Thatís where you find press kits replete with press releases and photos, talking all about whatís new for the coming model year. Press Kits can be a single press release with a photo unceremoniously stapled to the top; or a big thick folder stuffed with press releases and a CD with images and MicroSoft Word documents of the press releases; or a simple, yet elegant Flash Drive rich with digital press releases, fotos and videos.

The press kits you pick up and take back to your home office will not only tell you whatís new, via press releases and hi-resolution fotos, but also provide the valuable contact information for the company Public Relations staff. Ultimately you will use this contact information in order to write articles for both consumer publications and trade journals. On the bulletin board will be posted a list of all the press conferences that you should attend. Be sure to be well-rested and wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Also know that convention center food is typically bland and exorbitantly expensive.

2013 CES show floor Know that editors at trade shows are actively looking for freelancers to help them turn out a magazine. Attending a press conference says a freelance is serious and committed to that particular industry. In other words, a professional. So once inside the press room chat up the editors. Give them a business card.

In the film industry producers despise certain screenwriters for the way they constantly pitch them on their latest script, at restaurants, during press conferences, in bathrooms, and even at airports. Motion picture and TV writers are notoriously worse than paparazzi. This annoying behavior is called producer hustling and itís not appreciated. Be advised magazine editors also get tired of producer hustling. The lesson here is to be subtle. Pay attention to subtlety, to nuance If an editor seems open to your idea in conversation, then pitch the story. They will say yes, or no. You lose nothing. If the editor says, yes, then jump on the opportunity and get the article written and submitted in a timely  manner. Remember any savvy editors know the best way to get rid of a new, pesky writer is to give them an assignment. Conversely, if the editor says, no, then ask whether or not you can call or email in the future when you develop other ideas. Play it cool. Be assertive, but never be aggressive. Restated for emphasis, read body language, facial expressions and tone of voice. Donít be too pushy or you will burn a bridge for forever and a day.

There is another interesting dynamic you should know about. After two or three years worth of trade shows and editors seeing your face repeatedly, over and over again, you willcome to be accepted as one of the gang. You will get assignments. Be patient. Time and money are an investment against your writing career.

TIP: Trade Journals are like Abandoned Gold Mines. Most writers donít know these editors need stories and are willing to pay good money for them. Become an industry expert. Research ideas. Pitch stories. Cash checks. Admittedly, Tractor Weekly and Tugboat News aren't the New Yorker or Harpers, but they are valid markets. The quality of humility comes to mind.

How To Get Press Credentials

Youíve probably already guessed that you canít just waltz into a press room like you own the place. That is unless you have a press badge. You need one to get in. The method is as simple as the sea is salt. Do a Goggle search in order to find out when and where prospective tradeshows will be held. Youíll also see who runs the trade show and website. Apply for credentials online. If they ask for published works call on the phone and explain you are breaking in. Plead gently that you are serious about your crafts and are not there on a lark. Some trade shows are a tougher sell than others. At least try to get in. Like the California 49ers said about gold, "Never fail to look.".

When trying to decide what kind of a tradeshow to attend, keep in mind the simple reality that itís most efficient, and therefore the best strategy, to write about things you already know. Donít make the mistake of reinventing the wheel. So should you write about a topic youíre not an expert on? Chances are good your words wonít read with authority and you will be prone to make errors. Errors in print can destroy your credibility and your punishment meted out by editors will be banishment from a market. Donít be like the guy in the corn belt nightclub we were talking about earlier. Instead, know what you are talking about.

Donít misunderstand. If you want to write about something unfamiliar, research and learn about it inside and out. You don't have to be an expert, but become reasonably knowledgeable about a topic first, then write about it. For true writer's the learning process is part of the adventure. - next chapter - table of contents -