• Advice

How to prepare for the unexpected as a freelancer

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.

Over the years I have played in both organized (teams and leagues) and recreational sports (pickup games). There are many sayings in sports. “Hit it where they ain’t!” “Play the ball, don’t let it play you.” And Yogi Berra’s famous “It ain’t over til it’s over.”

There is one sports adage that I have found applicable to working with clients and prospects, networking, and many times in non-business activities. “Let the game come to you.”

When I played baseball, I was told to wait for the pitch. See if it is a curve, change up or fastball, adjust your swing, and then hit the pitch where it is thrown. In basketball and football defense sets up and the offensive runs a specific, planned play. But when that play begins, changes may have to be made.

The same agility is needed in meetings. Even though agendas may have been shared and agreed to, priorities may have changed when the meeting begins. The time allocated is shortened. Does this sound familiar?: “I didn’t expect that in this meeting. I was thrown a curve.” You need to be prepared to adjust to changes.

This even applies to networking. You come prepared to meet certain people, or executives with specific companies. You plan to share more than five minutes of quality time with your “targets.” But what if your targets are no-shows? What if someone not on your list wants to monopolize your time, since you are their “target?” You need to call an audible as “the game comes to you.”

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So how do you "let the game come to you?” Here are four thoughts.

- Listen to the client or prospect and watch body language. Let her tell you what is important in your meeting (in poker this is known as a “tell”).

- Have “audible plays” prepared to create a successful meeting.

- When entering a networking event, scan the room. Watch how people are interacting. Are they engaged in lively conversations, looking bored, or just passing out and collecting business cards? Are the people you wanted to meet not at the event?

- Call an “audible” and adjust your targets.

What do you think freelancers? Have you ever let “the game come to you?”

Spencer Maus of SpencerConnect has over 17 years of public, investor and media relations experience representing law and financial services firm, public and private corporations, and entrepreneurs/start-ups. He has been actively providing social media guidance for more than a decade, and became a member of LinkedIn in the 1st quarter of 2004.