Networking Promises: Watch what you Say

on June 13, 2011 in Marketing & PR

As you network with others, no matter if in person or in another manner, you may be tempted to make promises. While there is nothing wrong with this, you must be extremely careful of what you say. If you promise something and don’t come through, there is a good chance that the relationship will end sooner rather than later.

In the past, I made this mistake time and time again. I thought the only way to land a great gig was to promise more than the next writer. Soon enough I realized that I was killing myself in order to “deliver my promise” on time.

There is a fine line between being a good salesman and making promises you cannot keep. On the sales side of things, you want to talk yourself up and tell prospective clients what you can do for them. At the same time, you need to be careful of just how far you go.

Here is an example:

Sales: I have three years experience writing marketing material for clients in your industry. Would you like me to send you a few samples so you can see what I have to offer?

Promise: With three years experience in your field I guarantee I can deliver five new clients, through my content, within the first month of working together.

Can you see the difference between the two? With the promise you are really putting yourself out there. If you don’t deliver you are going to look bad. Not to mention the fact that the client may not be as willing to pay, despite your agreement.

My advice: only make a promise if you are 100 percent sure that you can deliver.

Thanks for sharing!
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Chris is a full-time freelance writer based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He specializes in web content, sales copy, and many other forms of writing. Chris has two books in print, as well as hundreds of articles in local and nationwide publications.


  1. Jodi Kaplan June 13, 2011 Reply

    Absolutely. Say I were a personal trainer (ha!) and told a client to eat certain foods and follow a specific exercise program. However, instead of following my instructions, he spent the next month with his feet up on the couch, watching TV and eating potato chips and candy bars. My program could be great, but it won’t work if a client doesn’t follow instructions or makes other poor choices. A guarantee would be useless.

  2. Jennifer Mattern June 13, 2011 Reply

    Great post Chris!

    You’re absolutely right about the risks of making promises. I know some folks like to do that and then offer a guarantee as a sales tactic. While that can work very well in some industries, I find that it’s a bit more difficult in freelance writing. That’s because the end results often rely on much more than your writing itself (and rely on things out of your control).

    For example, you might want to make conversion promises for a new sales letter. But the client doesn’t do much on their end to drive traffic to that sales page. Your goals aren’t met, and it’s no fault of your own. The client gets the work for free if you offer a money-back guarantee, and then they decide to heavily promote it. It’s easy to assume you’ll take advantage of existing traffic if they swap something out for your new alternative. But chances are just as good that won’t happen because your copy will be set up on a new page to split test rather than take advantage of traffic already driven to an existing page’s copy.

    That’s just one example, but it’s pretty frequent in freelance writing. Your words can do a lot to help clients, but they do the most when the clients are also prepared to help themselves. And that can make promises dangerous territory in certain markets.

  3. Lucy Smith June 13, 2011 Reply

    So true. A writer can promise a client that SEO copy will improve their Google rankings, and maybe it will to an extent, but what will really help is them working on linkbuilding, and social media, and making sure their programmer does what they’re supposed to, and a bunch of other things that will enhance the job the copy is doing. There’s never just one factor at play – and Murphy’s Law is strong too 😉

  4. Kimberly June 14, 2011 Reply

    Great advice, Chris. Forget the hype, just be a reliable writer and do what you say you will when you say you will. A freelancer’s reputation is too important to compromise by making promises you can’t keep.

  5. Lori June 15, 2011 Reply

    I’ve see a lot of both writers and bloggers doing this. They over-promise on their content and under-deliver. It’s disturbing, and it’s going to bite them. The goal should be to exceed expectations, not leave them with less than they paid for.

  6. Cathy Miller June 15, 2011 Reply

    Hey, Christ-great points. It must have been kismet that I just used Tom Peters formula fo success quote (Under promise and over develop) in my post today. 🙂 Great minds.

    Never a good idea to guarantee marketing or sales results. Thanks for sharing some good tips, Chris.

  7. Cathy Miller June 15, 2011 Reply

    This post was so good, I turned Chris into Jesus Christ. LOL!! 😀

    Not to mention blowing the quote over deliver-OMG! I knew I shouldn;t have given up drinking for my training. 😀

  8. Cathy Miller June 15, 2011 Reply

    Jenn: I’ll slip you editing money to fix my typos…shhhh…no one will ever know-oh wait, I’m thinking of my blog posts. 😉

    Getting off this laptop and on to the baby-boomer eyes-friendly screen.

    • Jennifer Mattern June 15, 2011 Reply

      lol I have plenty of my own Cathy. No worries. We’re very casual about comments ’round these parts.

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