I know, many of you are ready to tell me that you are no such person. Yet, the fact is, most of the time we spend in meeting others and in interactions we spend in selling ourselves. But my friends take me for the way I am, they know me, I don’t have to sell myself. Ever start a conversation with a friend or loved one? There is an implicit iron law of conversation with loved ones and friends. Never start a boring conversation. Yes, we may chat breezily along boring our friends and loved ones but watch for their discomfort as they think,”How do I get away from this idiot?” Did you ever notice that if the conversation starts to lag, goes nowhere quickly, it either changes directions or stops altogether? “Am I boring you?” It’s impolite unless you are a teenager to give a positive answer. I remember my kids complaining that one of the worst punishments I could give them was to talk to them after they did something unacceptable. Ah, the power of words. “Please, Dad! Just shut up and beat me!” Of course I never had to tell my father to shut up and beat me, he did it on cue.
If one takes a look at the personal sales technique one can see how we form introductions and acquaintances. I find it interesting that searching for customers is called prospecting, but then, maybe not. When one is prospecting one is searching for something specific like an indication of gold or silver or iron ore. We do the same thing is searching for friendships. Ever watch a child who is new to the neighborhood? What is the first thing that the child does? He watches the other children. If one is six years old does one seek out twelve year olds? Even an eight year old will appear to old to choose unless there is no one else available. Just as the old prospector will examine the dirt for flakes of gold he also takes into account how large those flakes are and how numerous they appear to be. After all, a man’s got to eat and if there aren’t enough flakes to make it worth his time to search then he better move on. There was a time when a bum could pick up five pennies in an hour or two and buy an apple of a cup of coffee. Now those same five pennies won’t get you anything at Starbucks. So it is when wanting to make friends. If you don’t like sports or play any why would you want to hang around an athletic field? Just like a salesman, we try to choose those individuals who are likely to be receptive to us. After all, we are not only selling ourselves but buying what the other people have to offer. A sale is an exchange of wants.
We offer our propositions to one another. I love to read the old relationship want ads. Talk about lack of truth in advertising….so we all tend to over promise, what of it? I like New York when it rains, how about you? Remember the Pina Colada Song? There you go, The propositions between two would be lovers. Children are a little more simple in their propositions because they have no sense of the future. When one is six it is had to imagine let alone identify with being twelve. A troop of chimpanzees may let a stranger in their midst depending on sex (get your mind out of it), The males may welcome another female but usually won’t tolerate another male. The females would tolerate another male since extra protection is always a good thing and the males will settle out who gets to mate and who has to cheat. But accepting another female may mean that one or more females get bumped out of their places. Rank is important to the females and bonds are build upon reciprocation and rank. Strangely enough, humans work on these same principles. But instead of grooming each other we talk. We exchange information, dish the dirt on others, gossip. That big hairy ape came home last night drunker than a skunk, I don’t see how she can tolerate his behavior. Well, for one, she’s got a man and you don’t. Marry me, I don’t drink, gamble, cheat, or stay out late. I’m also a boring person who will drive you to drink and an early grave. Well, if we had to tell the whole truth that is what we might expect. We are asking for a commitment, the sale, put your cash down on the barrel head. The maintenance of the account comes later, after the sale, and don’t worry about the warranty, you can litigate later.
But where do professional writers come into it? What do you think professional writers do, just type away and hope someone will buy their words? No, that is want amature writer does. If you want to get paid for your writing you have to sell yourself to the buyer. What exactly are you selling besides your ability to write well? You are selling your ability to research the subjects of interest to those people who would be willing to buy your words. If one is writing for a sports magazine one will not sell many articles about proper baby clothing to the editor unless it is very sports related. What do champion baby water skiers wear on the water? Now that might be worth reading if I knew of any baby water skiing champions. But my English teacher, my writing professor told me to write about what I know. True enough, but face it, with out a lot of worldly knowledge and experience and the ability to judge people and culture you are going to have to do a lot of research if you want to write. You want to be a professional science writer? Then you better start reading a lot of science books and get acquainted with that style and knowledge core. Women’s fashion more your style, you got a lot to learn about fabric, sewing, design, and sex appeal. And by the way, when it comes to women’s fashion, unless you are covering Fredrick’s of Hollywood, most women in that business dress for each other’s approval, men don’t count. Unless we happen to be gay, us men usually do not pay a great deal of attention to all the fine details of women’s clothing, particularly the designer styles. If one wants to write on political and philosophy then one needs a good background in those subjects and follow current events. On the other hand, if one wants to be a columnist or blogger, then simply babbling on the page will suit everyone. But even us bloggers must sell ourselves. The fact that we may not get many readers speaks for our product and sales ability or lack there of. Unless, of course we simply aren’t selling at all. Then the people who read us are there more by accident. But that is subject for another post.