It is wrong to exploit ex-colleagues

For the first six months ((you heard, six months)) of my self employment, things did not go totally well. Work did not come pouring through the front door as I had rather anticipated it would. Christmas arrived cold and, in terms of presents, rather limited.

Over the Christmas break my partner gently suggested I talk to one of my friends a talented marketer. We walked the dog and I explained the complexity of my situation ((I had no work, not actually that complex)). He considered carefully.

“Have you actually told anyone that you are available for work?” he asked.

“ Oh yes”. I said.

“Are you sure?” he asked ((it was Christmas, pantomime was appropriate))

“Maybe not” I confessed.

So on my return to work I collated a list of people that I used to work with. People who knew me and, presumably, had made some sort of assessment of my skills. People who did not, so far as I knew, hate me ((though obviously we all have a face that we hide away forever and take them out and show ourselves when everyone has gone.)). People who would not be distressed to find out what I was up to ((before LinkedIn was a thing, even so people aren’t glued to your LinkedIn profile: see “No-one cares about you” for more on this sort of thing)).

I wrote a brief tailored email to the effect that I was now freelance and though they probably knew a thousand people who were better than me and could add more value to their organisation I hoped they wouldn’t mind me letting them know that I was now available for hire, should they feel the need to hire me, which of course they probably wouldn’t do, but just in case ((this could have benefited from being clear what I did: see “What do you do?” if I ever get around to writing it)).

It was not the finest example of a marketing email.

It did not have a call to action.

It barely had a hint of a suggestion of the fact that an action could one day be contemplated.

And yet I received a reply by return from an old colleague.

“I was just talking about you” she said “We need someone to draw up a comms strategy. Is that something you can do?” ((mind they took ages to pay))

And, do you know, it was.