After all, what we do is primarily for executives, thought leaders and entrepreneurs who have been successful. No, we are not one of the cool kids at Gawker, Business Insider or Above The Law whose concepts, organization principles and language align with youth culture.
In reality, there is much of the same age bias as permeates just about every line of work. It took bumping into that a few times before I got it: I had to figure out how to continue to make a good living, despite the assumption that young is (much) better. Following is what I came up with.
Listen. The most disarming move in the world is to pay full attention to what the prospect is saying. No one listens any more. If it is hard to listen, a device that will mute your talk button is making copious notes of what is being said. The prospect who is heard is more apt to give us the assignment.
Defer. Famous sociologist Erving Goffman had it down cold. In his classic "The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life" he explained how the person with the power is the one who sets the rules in any social encounter. The prospect has the power. We mirror that person's pace, volume and word choice.
Create value. Thanks to our experience, we can come up with ways to increase the attention the prospect will get. For example, we have the contacts in the establishment media who will link to the article, opinion-editorial or keynote address. We offer to do that with no expectation of extra compensation.
Be and stay low-profile. Yes, as ghostwriters and speechwriters, we should remain in the background. But sometimes we have to be reminded of that.
Get in and get out. Most prospects are too busy to develop a relationship with us. Years ago they might have seen that as useful to them to have us get to know they better. That was then.
Be confident. It goes with the territory that clients may not like the product we produce. So? We move on, preserving our confidence. The lesson here is the necessity to push to find the right fit with clients. It's a lot like dating.
Of the above, take what works for you and leave the rest. When I leverage all of them, though, I not only get quality business. I receive bonuses. Success, not only in ghostwriting and speechwriting, primarily comes from performance art.