When I first want to work from home, I wanted to sign up with some place online, work and make money. I didn’t want to talk to people.
As my work-at-home career developed I was able to do solitary jobs such as writing, but I’ve learned over the years that if you truly want to make a living at home, especially if you want to be success, you need to talk to people. I’m not saying you need to become a sales person, although learning sales strategies can be a help. But no one achieves success working at home in a vacuum. You need to be willing to reach out to your network and even strangers to get what you want.
I reached out (by mail) to adoption agencies in my state and got a telecommuting job as an adoption social worker (I’m an MSW). In building my business, I joined a mastermind group and networked with others in my niche to find work, joint ventures and other opportunities.
If you’re work-at-home career is going no-where, it might be time to start talking to people. In fact, I’d say it’s a requirement. I read once that networking was the number one way to find a job. And most freelancers who appear on the WAHS podcast got their start by activating and expanding their network.
The good news is that talking to people to get what you want doesn’t need to be scary or stressful. Here are a few tips:
1) What is going to help you move your work-at-home career forward? Before you can start talking to people, you must know what you need. Are you looking for job referrals, places to guest blog, a joint venture partner on a new project, etc. This requires that you take a good look at what’s hindering your work-at-home effort and from that determine what you need. For example, if your resume isn’t generating interest with employers, maybe you need someone to check your resume to see where it can be improved.
2) Identify resources that can help you. In the writing world, one mistake many new writers make is pitching an article to the wrong publication or editor. This may require some research on your part.
3) Be willing to “pay” if needed. By pay, I don’t necessarily mean money, although that might be the case. Other forms of “payment” might come in returning the favor, such as offering feedback on their work, making a referral, or a barter arrangement.
4) Be clear and concise on what you need. I get vague email all the time asking about working at home. Often they’re asking if I can recommend their product or service or run their ad, but they fail to give me any information about what they’re offering. Frequently they don’t include a website for me to check out. If you want help, you need to make it easy for people to help you. Know what you need and clearly articulate that need to the person you’re talking to.
5) Send a thank you. Nothing builds goodwill and increases the likelihood you’ll get help in the future, often without asking, than gratitude. Although email can work, a hand-written note is even better. I recommend sending a note even if the person wasn’t able to help you. If they took the time to listen to your need and were supportive, even if they couldn’t help, that deserves a thank you. In doing so, you increase the chance the person will refer someone who can help.
Asking for help or talking to people about what you need can be hard, but it’s an important skill that can increase your success working at home and in other areas as well. If you’re polite and gracious, people won’t think you’re obnoxious.
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
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