Silly thing, I know… but I don’t have business cards anymore. I’ve had so many business cards over the years, in various incarnations, that when I made the decision to stop promoting my freelance career, I abandoned my old cards and made an intentional decision not to get new ones printed. I didn’t want cards for Bright Little Light Press yet, since I’m basically a one-woman house and imposter syndrome and all that stuff. I figured I’d probably get some printed eventually when we get bigger and I want to start accepting submissions, potentially hiring, etc. And I didn’t feel that personal cards were particularly relevant, as I wasn’t promoting my freelance career anymore.
But… also, there’s an element of wanting to be a bit more discretionary with my contact info. I’ve been more than happy to sit down with people over the years who wanted to pick my brain and learn from me… but I’ve also spent a LOT of hours in one-way exchanges where I give, and don’t get anything back from the other people. Since I started the publishing thing, I wanted to be more mindful of my time, and I also wanted to avoid the “all the writers who want to get published trying to reach out” element that can quickly become a major time-sink.
And, here’s the thing… as a woman, and someone who grew up in the Midwest where we’re super nice… I’m really bad at saying no. I don’t know how to say no to a contact request without being awkward. So, if I didn’t have business cards, I could just say “Sorry, I don’t have business cards, give me yours and I’ll reach out to you.”
Well, that’s dumb.
I’m currently smack in the middle of a great conference – Publishing University 2018, put together by IBPA. And yeah, there have been people I’ve chatted with that I don’t necessarily want to connect with… but there have also been some great people with whom I’d be happy to stay in touch. I went to a “Women in Publishing” breakfast meetup this morning, and it was a group of wonderful, professional peers with whom I’d be happy to have an ongoing relationship. And they all had cards but me. Which they passed around the table, while I apologized and promised to email them.
One of the things we chatted about was the boundary issue. It was wonderful/sad to hear that I’m not the only person who’s had this problem, but it was also really informative how different people have handled it. And I realized it’s time for me to practice saying ‘no’ – so I can also say ‘yes’ when I want to.
Next time I go to a conference, I’ll bring cards. In fact, scratch that – when I get home, I’ll go to Moo and get cards made so I always have them and don’t have to think about it next time I want to make a connection. And if I don’t want to make the connection, I’ll politely decline, or perhaps direct them to an alternative resource that can answer their questions.