I do my first editorial/writing meeting with Zoom video (and you should, too)

I’ve pitched and landed some new clients lately. When we do our first “kick the tires” meeting, I always send them an invite from my Zoom videoconferencing account — partly because it works, and partly because of the impression it makes. Here’s why you should, too.

My clientele are entrepreneurs, business executives, and publishers. I focus on writing and editing jobs for clients that would value my knowledge of business management, analytical thinking, digital marketing, and technology.

They always need to vet me first. As soon as we agree on a time, I send a Zoom invite.

Zoom makes an impression

Here’s what my invite tells the prospective client:

  1. I’m a professional. I have (and pay for) my own communication tools, I don’t need to depend on yours. (My Pro plan is $15 per month, and I’ve gotten lots of value out of it.)
  2. I take the initiative. That’s why the meeting invite comes from me. This sends a subtle message — “I’m interested in your business” — without sounding desperate for the work.
  3. I understand technology. By proposing Zoom, I am telling these business executives and entrepreneurs, “Yes, I use the kind of tools that you do.” They’re probably using Zoom or one of its competitors for meetings, and they’ll be more comfortable with a writer or editor that thinks as they do.
  4. It will be simple. If you use Zoom from a computer or app, one click will get things started. If you’d prefer to dial in on a phone line, that’s easy, too. My experience with Google Hangouts and other video products is that, unless you use them frequently, they’re a hassle to set up. That’s unworkable for a first meeting with a potential client. Zoom just works, even if you’ve never done it before.
  5. You’ll see my workspace. There’s are posters from a speech I gave in Brazil and the bestselling book I cowrote directly in view behind me, but high up on a wall where they don’t seem so braggy. I didn’t put them there because of video, but as long as they’re there, they do make an impression.

(By the way, if you start Zoom video on your computer and I still can’t see you, I know what’s wrong. You have a piece of tape over your camera. It’s pretty much the only thing that can go wrong. I’ve diagnosed this multiple times, and it always makes me seem like a mindreader.)

Zoom makes the meeting better

It’s not just about impressing people. The first meeting often goes better with Zoom.

  1. I get value out of seeing people’s facial expressions. I can often diagnose happiness, discomfort, or other emotions in ways that would be difficult over the phone. When I quote my price, I’ll be watching your face carefully to see what you think of it.
  2. Clients can connect from anywhere. Many big companies have Zoom corporate accounts — their conference rooms are wired and they connect to my Zoom effortlessly. In other cases, executives and entrepreneurs are calling me from hotel rooms and home offices. (One guy actually propped his phone up in his car and conducted the meeting while driving; I had a view through his steering wheel. Not recommended.)
  3. People can join and drop off easily. Often there are multiple attendees; this allows me to chat before everyone shows up and continue the meeting after somebody leaves.
  4. I can share things quickly. I hold books I’ve worked on up to the camera. I share images from my computer screen, including Amazon pages for books I’ve worked on, blog posts, and text I’ve written. I also send links through the Zoom chat feature.
  5. You can see me. I dress casually. I make connections quickly and make wiseass jokes. This is me: it is who I am. Nobody is picking to work with me because I’m good looking or well coiffed; my hair is mostly grey. But I hope, at the end of the meeting, that I do seem like somebody who would understand and be able to help with your problems.

I mentioned that I meet with publishers and editorial professionals, too. They’re much less likely to use Zoom than the business executives and entrepreneurs. They can still dial in, which they typically do. But by eschewing modern tools, they position themselves as part of an old, traditional industry. That may be fine if you’re pitching a book on political history, but it doesn’t make you the ideal partner for a young, business-savvy, or technology-connected audience.

I have to come off as that ideal partner. That’s why I use Zoom, even for the first meeting.

(Since you may be wondering, I did not receive any compensation for this post, Zoom did not solicit it, and I pay the same price for my service as everyone else in the same service tier.)

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