The new year has barely begun, and I already have a list of things I get worked up about.
Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m not going to slam clients or berate online cattle call centers. This time I’m going to point my arrows at you, dear colleagues!
Well… at least some of you will have to suffer my undying intolerance for BS. As for the rest, I’m sure you’ll recognize my shortlist of major and minor annoyances.
Here’s pet peeve number one:
Automated requests to connect.
Let me get one thing straight. Although I can sound like one if you push me, I am not a robot. I am a human being with thoughts, feelings, and certain expectations. I am honored that you wish to add me to your network, but chances are that I don’t know you.
You don’t walk up to a stranger in the street and ask to be part of his circle of friends and colleagues, do you? So, why would it be okay to target me online with an impersonal message, without even introducing yourself? Are you that rude, or is it that you just don’t care?
Please tell me who you are, and give me at least one good reason why we should connect, and I’ll consider it.
People wanting to pick my brain.
It often starts with an innocent question:
“Can I call you some time to talk about the business?” A few years ago, I would have said yes immediately, only to discover that I was about to do someone’s homework. A more honest question would have been:
“Paul, can I get a free coaching session? I have no money, no equipment, no training, and no brain.”
Mind you, I’m not opposed to helping those who are truly committed, but I’m not going to waste my time on lazy airheads who are simply “considering options.” How do I separate the two? It’s easy! The committed person has respect for my time, and is willing to pay for my expertise. End of story. I’m doing my very best to run a business. Not a charity.
And just so you know: I’m not going to evaluate your demo either. Unless you pay me, and only if you promise not to blame the messenger for destroying your dreams.
Here’s the next pet peeve:
People asking for the number of my agent.
Seriously? Beginners I barely know want me to open my virtual Rolodex, and give them a chance to pester my professional contacts. That is wrong on so many levels! First of all, a quick Google search using the term “voiceover agent” will bring up 450 thousand results in 0.55 seconds. If you really need a number, don’t ask me to spoon feed it to you. Unless you’re a toddler.
More importantly, the real question behind the question “Can you give me the number of your agent,” is: “Could you introduce me to your agent and say a few nice things about me?” Here’s my take on that.
I’m not going to recommend people I hardly know because it could end up biting me in the behind. Secondly, being part of an agent’s roster is something that has to be earned. It cannot be phoned in. Here’s my advice: make a name for yourself first. If you’re any good, chances are that an agent will contact you.
The next request goes even further:
Peeps asking for work.
The other day it happened again. A mysterious self-proclaimed voice-over colleague who is active on a different continent approached me and asked: “I would appreciate if you can send me some jobs and we can work over the internet.”
Here’s what I could have said:
“Well, if you give me a moment I’ll open the Nethervoice vault and grab you a few voice-over projects. Is five enough? I’m sure you’re up to the task, and my clients are gonna love you. By the way, these gigs come with a nice paycheck! Are you okay with that?”
Without the sarcasm, here’s what I really wanted to say:
“For starters, I’m a colleague. Not a contractor. People hire me. I don’t hire people. Secondly, this industry is based on talent, trust, and connections. If you’re hoping to work with someone, make sure you get to know that person first, and allow them to get to know you. In other words: make a real connection. Don’t lead with what’s in it for you.
This is a service industry, so, focus on how you can help the person you’re approaching. Demonstrate your talent, and earn their trust. If you follow those steps with me, and you’re good at what you do, I might recommend you to some of my clients. Eventually.”
Now, before I go, there’s one last thing I’d like to point out.
All these requests have one thing common. They are based on a sense of entitlement; on the expectation that valuable information, experience, and assistance can be had for free.
If that’s your philosophy, you shouldn’t even be thinking of starting your own business. Think of it this way:
If you don’t respect and value other people’s time, skills, and insights, why should they value yours?
Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice
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About the author
is a Dutch-English voice-over pro, coach, and writer. His blog is one of the most widely read and influential blogs in the industry. Paul is also the author of "Making Money In Your PJs, Freelancing for voice-overs and other solopreneurs."