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This blog post by Amber Rice on PRDaily.com tickled my fancy. Maybe it’s because many of my friends have toddlers, or maybe it’s because I’m pregnant—but I think adults can learn a lot from little kids. Below are some of Rice’s suggestions, as well as some of my own.
Be Curious and Ask Questions
What’s this? Why? How come?
Adults can become exasperated with the number of questions that come from kids. Sometimes we even make up answers just to get them to stop! But asking questions isn’t a bad thing for a freelancer—in fact, it’s a very good thing.
If you work in PR, you need to know everything there is to know about your client to represent them in the best way possible. Even if that means you ask them a lot of questions.
As a journalist, asking questions is a huge part of your job. Before I even call people for an interview, I do research to put together a list of the best questions possible. I don’t want to waste their time (or mine) asking questions I can easily find from other sources.
Practice Makes Perfect
Toddlers have to practice everything, from putting on their shoes to learning how to use the potty. They seldom learn a new skill on the first try and need to practice and reminders of how to do something. —PRDaily.com
Freelancers don’t need to practice to tie their shoes, but they do need practice in managing their business—especially with the speed technology is changing. What worked five years ago is probably not going to work the same way today.
Freelancers should try out this new technology—be it a social media site or a new way to invoice their clients—and discern if it’s going to work for them. With anything new, there are going to be bugs to work out and a learning curve. It’s easy to get frustrated with new technology, throw your hands up in the air, and give up. But that isn’t the answer. Neither is throwing a temper tantrum.
Networking is an important aspect for people of all ages. For freelancers, it can help them meet new clients, peers, and other people in your community that can be an asset to your business. Don’t be afraid to say hello and introduce yourself.
In today’s world, people network in many ways—both in person and online. Create a LinkedIn account and find other people who do what you do that you can’t meet in person because of geographical distance. Strike up a conversation and see where it goes. Social media sites are a great way to share your expertise.
An Afternoon Nap Can Do Wonders
Kids need to take naps. You might not be able to lay down for an hour or two every afternoon, but that doesn’t mean you can work your butt off without consequences. Getting a good night’s sleep and making time for yourself is important to recharge your batteries.
Many people start a freelance career to leave the 40-hour-plus workweek behind and have a more pleasant existence. Sure, some days and weeks will be busier than others, but if you aren’t enjoying your freelancing life, why are you doing it?
Use Your Manners
Who isn’t pleasantly pleased when a little kid says “please” and “thank you” without being prompted from one of their parents? Manners and politeness go a long way, no matter how old you are.
In today’s society where people break up over text messages, it’s refreshing to receive a good old fashioned phone call or—gasp—a thank you card from someone. That’s why I keep a stack of thank you cards at my desk. Going the extra mile to thank someone for going the extra mile for you puts smiles on peoples’ faces, and may earn you some brownie points.
Sharing is Caring
Being stingy will get you nowhere. I’m not saying you should share your secret insider business knowledge with your competitors, but becoming a mentor or volunteering your services and/or time in your community builds value. Not only do people appreciate it, but you are networking for your business at the same time. Plus, you never know what will come from your good deeds. Perhaps someone who never knew you existed will see something you did for a worthy cause and seek you out for a future project.