When it came to the pandemic lockdowns, there were few better equipped to cope than writers. With the majority of us being work from home natives who are happy in our own company, we took to the new world of work like a duck to water. We had all the hardware and software in place, along with the all important comfortable office chair and desk. We’d already purloined enough pens, pencils and notepads from in-house jobs, awaydays and meetings to keep us going for a decade-long lockdown.
Sure, we had our once-quiet days interrupted by endless Zoom meetings – like the rest of the working world – but we were also far more in demand than ever, as businesses realised the value of a ready-to-go workforce that was used to delivering without someone looking over their shoulder. They also realised that they could get a senior expert copywriter or consultant for two days per week instead of a junior member of staff on a salary. The results could be transformational.
Even Ocado deliveries could not stop us from making deadlines, as others struggled with their home becoming their office and the lure of the garden or park. We got busy. Very busy.
The one thing that I did learn about myself during this period is that face-to-face is best for me when having an initial or introductory meeting. While I can function perfectly well in online meetings, I make a better impression when I am in the room. Yes, I am an introvert who can be a ‘business extrovert’, but I have found that my benefits and knowledge are almost always best delivered as asides. I am a natural storyteller, which is a big part of my job as well as a big part of how I sell my offer. Marginalia is where the interest is.
Did I tell you about that time I sent Nigel Farage into hiding? The ********** ********? What about the time I met the Godfather (of panto)?
My skill set is somewhat unique [insert Liam Neeson gif], as it is (honestly this is not some kind of SEO-booster) storyteller, writer, author, journalist, copywriter, ghost writer, thought leadership writer, report writer and narrative creator, alongside consultant, ideas man, PR consultant, pranks creator, culture history expert, subcultural historian and cultural commentator. And that is before we get into all of my areas of interest. So many of those descriptors are buzzwords that I dislike, but they have become terms that describe what I do, from writing books to impersonating CEOs, or representing founders in meetings or in print.
My most recent virtual business card signs off ‘trouble caused or solved’. The last person I passed it on to got the story of me talking my way out of being arrested in Whitechapel. You’ll have to buy me a coffee to get the end of that one. Maybe I’ll throw in the tale of which keynote speaker’s lanyard I was wearing at BAFTA, and how that led to a working relationship that I still enjoy.
Whether you need me to create a report on your newly-found B Corporation status or simply come up with ideas for a PR campaign, I can sell you all the skills for this over a tea or a beer far better than I can through a screen. That is not because I am a great salesman, but because I think on my feet and adhere to the ‘two of these, one of those’ (ears/mouth) rules of conversation. I am like one of those agencies that promises you a boutique experience, but I do that part in front of your eyes. It’s fluid. It’s different every time.
This on-the-ball method also works spectacularly well in both pitch meetings and talks. I’m the one who gets the client or the audience to laugh in a room where there often isn’t any. And it is not about jokes. It is about reading a room, a mood and an audience. It is about a dialogue, not a monologue. Disarming your audience, whether that is one person or a crowd, means you can earn their trust, their attention and (possibly) their business.
If we do meet, then I am likely to finish my drink before you, because I am sipping, listening and digesting (your words and ideas, as well as that biscuit). Most of my CV and portfolio is in my head. Once I know what you need then I can spin you a good yarn that gets to that point.
So, if you want to chat over a beverage, or a talk over toast then let me know.