I haven’t read the book this blog title is based on. Maybe I should.
As it is, I’m the type of person who has to look away if I see someone I know in the distance coming towards me. Only when they’re very close is it OK to look up, put on a surprised smile and say “Hi!”.
What’s the alternative? Staring at them for 100 feet? Shouting at the top of my voice (which isn’t very loud anyway)? Greeting them with a nod only to greet them again when they’re in vocal range? No – I look away or pretend to be using my phone. I also hope it doesn’t happen too often.
The social toll of freelancing
With that in mind you may wonder how I cope making friends and getting along in business. The life of a freelancer isn’t always suited to the socially challenged. Sometimes I have to meet new or prospective clients and impress them with my work. I’ve even been known to attend networking events*.
*Not the dirty handshake events where you run around like you’re speed dating. More relaxed, sociable types of networking event. But yes, still painful and awkward.
I am not famous for my sales pitch but the quality of my work has been remarked upon and appreciated several times now, so I know it’s not a fluke. Previous clients have mostly come through friends or friends of friends. Word of (someone else’s) mouth is my sales force. My best clients have been agencies who I can develop an ongoing relationship with. They get to know my skills and shield me from the flux of end clients.
Nonetheless I am sometimes in unknown territory, pitching to someone I don’t know or arranging to meet someone who happened to find me online and thought they might like to work with me.
These events are a big deal for me, and yet for countless non-Aspie’s they’re an almost daily occurrence, just business as normal. And if they can do it, why not me?
I’ve had some good client meetings and some bad ones. Likewise with telephone calls. I know I can work well and get along with the people I’m working for and with. The biggest barrier is not that I’m on the Autsim spectrum but that I lack confidence!
So, what’s my best tip for approaching these situations? Remember times when you succeeded. My second best tip is, if it goes wrong, get over it and move on! Beating yourself up is pointless. Encouraging yourself will lead to achievement.
Psst! If you’d like to socialise in a way that is more about having fun than furthering your career, try this!