It’s 2:28 p.m. and there’s a palpable buzz in the air! Because in just two minutes, the doors to the big ballroom will swing wide open, and the exhilarated group of ASJA members lined up will usher in. The ballroom is filled with small tables, two chairs per table, one for an ASJA member and one for an editor, content manager, or literary agent. Where’s your assigned table? It’s #32. There? There? No, all the way across the ballroom. Hurry, because your 9-minute Client Connections session has already begun!
If you have ever participated in the annual Client Connections at the ASJA conference, you know just what I mean. This is one powerful, high-energy, business-building program—and it’s only for ASJA members. If you haven’t joined in yet, maybe this is your year. The next Client Connections will take place at the annual ASJA conference on May 2 (2:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.) at the Hyatt Regency Jersey City in Jersey City, New Jersey.
At this fast-paced event, 9-minute meetings are held back-to-back for three full hours in a speed-dating type of format. The appointments are scheduled in advance by lottery. You introduce yourself and your expertise, and perhaps pitch a few ideas on the spot. It’s a quick way to see if you fit with the editor’s/agent’s needs and personality. Read to the end of this article to find out how to register.
The volunteer team is busy signing up clients (editors, content managers, and literary agents) for this year’s event. Among those already committed are: Forbes Content Studio, Kingfish Media, Global Finance Magazine, Scientific American, MarketWatch, Business Insider, Modern Farmer, Association for Computing Machinery, Fairbank Literary, Library Journal, and Gotham Ghostwriters. You can see the full list of client participants, updated in real time, at the bottom of this page.
Here’s what some of your ASJA peers have experienced during Client Connections …
Tens of Thousands of Dollars in Work
Ellen Sheng met an editor from WSJ Custom Studios and landed work writing advertorials for several large companies. Net results: Tens of thousands of dollars. She “used to work at Dow Jones,” she said, “so although the work was different, it was also a little like coming home. I loved all the assignments and learned so much from the editors, who were all fantastic.”
Sheng went on to say: “I’m really thankful to ASJA for helping boost my career. I had just moved back to New York after living and working in Hong Kong for eight years. The first year was rough—I had to find all new clients, redefine my niche, find people, find publications and so on. ASJA helped me learn about the market, identify trends, and got me work to boot! I’ve also gotten bylines in Fast Company and Scientific American and found work at a number of agencies thanks to ASJA. The cost of my membership and attendance at conferences has more than paid off.”
Lifestyle Gigs at Forbes
Longtime ASJA member Margie Goldsmith became a Lifestyle (culture and travel) contributor to Forbes.com through Client Connections. She pitched herself and landed an ongoing client that resulted in $1,000-plus in assignments.
Goldsmith said: “I have been a member of ASJA since I began freelance writing almost 20 years ago. Joining ASJA was the smartest decision I’ve ever made. Not only are the yearly conferences extremely useful, but I’ve made many wonderful writer friends through ASJA. Over the years, thanks to pitching editors during Client Connections (including one editor I followed into the ladies’ room, pitched, and placed the story), I have landed many assignments and contributing writer gigs.”
So Much Work She Became a Co-Chair
Client Connections has brought in so much work for Cari Shane over the years, that this year, she was inspired to take on serving as one of the co-chairs of the program. She has generated $9,500 from the in-person Client Connections, with another $12,500 coming in from Virtual Client Connections (which happens online throughout the year), “and counting” she said.
Straight from her to you: “When I returned to freelance writing full-time in 2017, I became a member of ASJA. But it wasn’t until I started participating in all of the fabulous events hosted by ASJA that freelance magazine writing became a financially sustainable career.
“At my first Client Connections event in NYC in 2018, I met an editor for Eating Well magazine and another from NextAvenue. The editors were intrigued by my pitches, and, after some email follow-ups, I landed an article with each of the publications; I continue to write for each of those magazines, despite my original points of contact leaving. Adding these magazines to my list of published work became an ego-boosting rolling stone. More confident, I was inspired to send out more pitches; honed in on how to better angle a pitch to a specific magazine; and, most importantly, came to understand that a rejection was more a matter of ‘fit’ and less about a poorly conceived, poorly written pitch.
“I continued to participate in all of ASJA’s virtual events throughout the year, gaining more traction as a freelance writer, landing more articles, and making more editorial connections. And, I returned to the annual meeting in 2019. I landed LeapsMag as a client and have written a few pieces for that digital pub, which focuses on the future of science. In 2020 during Virtual Client Connections, I connected with the editor of American Way. In an incredible nine-minute phone call in which the editor said ‘no,’ to each story idea on my pitch list within a few minutes, during our remaining time the editor filled me in on the kinds of pieces he was seeking. The conversation turned to a theme I hadn’t thought to pitch and that pitch became the first of several articles written for the inflight magazine. Eventually, I was also assigned two articles I hadn’t pitched—the Holy Grail for a freelancer, in my opinion. That experience with the American Way editor is the perfect example—proof, even—that a conversation with an editor, whether face-to-face or by Zoom/phone, can be the difference-maker in the world of freelance writing. Meeting an editor makes things personal. And despite being inundated with thousands of emails a week from hopeful writers (and PR people), I’ve found that 99% of the time I receive a response to pitches I’ve sent to editors with whom I have a rapport, even if the answer is ‘no.’ The connections made through Client Connections? Priceless.”
Mark Your Calendar!
So are you in? Appointments for Client Connections are made by lottery, which takes place online April 11-15 and is open to all ASJA members who register to attend ASJA’s 2022 annual conference. There is a separate, nonrefundable fee of $75 to participate in Client Connections. Register here. This is the only way to sign up for the event. There will be no other chance, no possibility of requesting same-week or same-day appointments at the event on May 2.
So, mark your calendar now… and take advantage of this incredible, high-value perk of being an ASJA member. Both you and your business will benefit.
If you have any questions—or you want to volunteer to help out with Client Connections as we continue to prepare or at the actual event—contact any of the three co-chairs: Denise Caiazzo, Cari Shane, and Sarah Ludwig Rausch.
Client Connections is coming. May 2 is just around the corner. Get your game on—and have some fun with it!Good luck!