Many years ago, when I was just getting started, I landed The Voice of America as a client.
The VOA was then a US Government owned short wave radio network. The State Department wanted to turn it into a TV network and they hired me to take the radio journalists and teach them to make video on their own.
Each month, I would report to the Board of Governors about the progress I had made.
One of the Board members was Ambassador Carl Spielvogel. Prior to joining the Board (and prior to becoming the US Ambassador to The Slovak Republic), Carl had founded and run one of the largest advertising agencies in the world - Backer Spielvogel.
One day, Carl took me to lunch in NY, and over lunch, he started pulling out clippings he had taken from newspapers and magazines; articles he thought were interesting - people he might want to get in touch with.
This struck me as a great idea, so I started to do the same.
Of course, now you don't have to cut up a newspaper or a magazine; you can find all you need to read online. The resource is amazing, but it's what you do with it that counts.
I started to write to the people I had read about. It was a good way to make connections.
To this day, I write about 100 letters a month. I have been doing this for years.
This may seem like a lot, but it is really only 3 letters a day, every day.
But it adds up.
Of the 100 letters I write a month (and I have been doing this for years now), I would say that I get about 10 responses.
Of the 10 responses, I get, on average, about 1 deal.
Maybe 1 in 20.
But that is all I need.
That means that I run a 99% (or 99.5%) failure rate.
But that is fine with me. It's the only way to find the one!
If you were going to Las Vegas and you only put one chip down on the roulette table, the odds are that you are going to lose. But if you cover 40 or 50 numbers, the odds on winning are a lot higher. And in this case, the 'chips' don't cost you a dime - let alone $20!
And what do you write?
Many years ago, I read an article about Ted Turner, who was then running CNN. I thought he would be a good candidate for the VJ approach to news, so I wrote him a letter. I had never met him and he certainly did not know who I was.
I kept the letter short - like a good online video, one minute is about it.
I simply told Turner that he made television all wrong and that I had a better way to do it.
In the second paragraph, I wrote, "You give me 10 minutes and I will give you the world, or any part of it you don't own already."
Three days later, my phone rang.
"This is Ted Turner," the voice said. "You want your ten minutes, you got it. You be in my office tomorrow morning at 9 AM". And he hung up the phone.
The next morning, needless to say, I was in his office at 9 AM.
He appeared at the door, touched his watch and said: "Go!"
I talked as fast as I could.
Ten minutes later, he got it.
If you're a freelancer or an entrepreneur just starting out, it can be daunting. You need customers. But where do you find them?
In fact, they are right in front of your eyes.
The problem is that people tend to fall in love with one idea or one job and they will keep pounding at that one thing. Sometimes it works, but mostly it will not.
Spread your risk!
If you're in the video business and you are pitching an idea - pitch 20. Pitch 50. Pitch 100. The more ideas you pitch, the better the odds on striking gold.
After 30 years, I can tell you that it has worked for me. And it can work for you.