When I pitch articles or event ideas, I always first look to see if I have a contact, or know someone who knows someone. Sometimes I defer pitching an idea because I’m waiting for that connection to arrive.
But when I just go ahead and pitch, interesting things happen. My first New York Times article was the result of a cold pitch. So whenever I need a reminder that cold pitches can work — as long as the idea and timing are right — I think about that experience.
Planning my book tour, I fell into the same old patterns. I quickly followed up on leads and introductions and dragged my feet when I wanted to approach a venue and had no contacts. And again, my fear was unfounded. The very first event I secured — and one I’m most excited about — is a panel discussion at McNally Robinson Booksellers my favorite bookstore in my neighborhood (Soho/West Village). All it took was walking in and introducing myself to the event coordinator and then following up with a well-tailored proposal. I’m proud to say that the event planner emailed the morning after getting my pitch offering me a slot — even though she told me they never do events for career books.
Michael Melcher (self-styled career coach to the stars) gave me an emergency coaching session on this very issue a few months ago when I was slipping into pitch avoidance mode. He showed me a pitch he’d used that resulted in a speaking gig at a business school in Milan — a great gig, and a great travel experience. Reading that pitch (and any successful one I’ve written) is another good way to remind myself that it can work. Thinking about traveling to Milan helps too.