Five sales lessons that I don't think Seth Godin meant to give last month

I am surprised to say I’ve become something of a fan of marketing author Seth Godin.

I find his blog purposefully insightful, thought-provoking and strangely general. A person from just about any industry could take lessons away from his posts, which, of course, is likely his purpose.

It’s in that way that if, say, a fellow young journalist asked for a few blogs to follow, I’d suggest at least two that really don’t have any direct relationship to newspapers or even media. I’d certainly say Godin’s, and I’d also say Mark Cuban‘s — but that’s for another post.

I have to fight an urge to share very nearly everything they post.

Last month, though, I found a bit of a theme in Godin’s posts. It may have been because of my focus of my own announcement of intentions to monetize Technically Philly, but no matter the reason, I think Godin offered a series of interesting thoughts on making sales, all of which correlated, I thought, to Web startups.

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Every college journalist should be freelancing right now

I am on month five of full-time, professional freelancing. I think only now am I finding the hum and the rhythm of this craft, particularly in the doldrums of a sour economy and struggling print industry.

You’re a college journalist, unsure about the future. So, tell me, why aren’t you trying to make in-roads in freelancing now?

I think it’s a sin if you aren’t at least contributing to your college newspaper – it’s a great, college experience, it’s challenging and a wonderful incubator for insight and vision. But, I think you need to be doing more.

Get that internship, sure, but if you don’t have one, or perhaps even if you do, you should be developing contacts and knowledge for the freelance game – because it’s a better back up than waiting tables.

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Beware working for friends, freelancers

I apprenticed with a plumber on and off for a couple years at the beginning of my college career.

He’d always tell me, “Don’t do work for friends.”

It rarely ends well. Someone ends up feeling screwed, but no one wants to say it when friendships are on the line. When it comes to soft crafts like writing, it’s even harder to get things settled.

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Success by association

We are no longer in a golden age of newspapers. This we know.

There was a time when newspapers carried greater weight and bigger staffs. Those left on big urban dailies are ideologues, clingers and the occasional innovator.

I met someone who in the 1980s worked at one of those newspapers that were still power brokers. The staff was almost triple the size what it is today. He had some stories, and he had collected and organized contacts and sources. He learned the game of newspapering and reporting at a time when newspapers had enough editors to truly pass on the details of the game.

Of course, old reporters don’t like to admit that in that way, they had it a lot easier: there were more mentors and editors to teach them the craft, while I don’t know who’s teaching journalists of today.

Other than this learning and the respect he held, this old head journalist didn’t strike me as deserving of the esteem he demanded. After all, he only happened to work in a field that was succeeding. He held success by association.

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Down with cover letters: Why journalists don't need them

Don’t ask me to write a cover letter for a journalism job.

Right now reporting gigs are nearly impossible to come upon for the talented peers of mine looking for industry work – some have already moved on.

Some jobs may still be available, but really, despite their struggles and job loss, one newspaper department is as powerful as ever: human resources.

Below see how I think the job-hiring process should go.

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What can you do?: have a mental resume

You need to know what is special about you. Now.
You need to know what is special about you. Now.

You have a resume, clips, maybe even a standard cover letter you dust off for applications or to forward to new contacts. But do you have any idea what it is that actually makes you special – if you think you’re special at all?

Get on board and get yourself a checklist of the qualities or experiences you have that make you special, that you can share in an interview or even in a casual conversation with a potential network. You need a mental resume.

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Learn to e-mail better

How well do you e-mail?

A few weeks ago I came across a simple, intuitive but worthwhile post on Seth Godin’s blog – an e-mail checklist.

I send lots of e-mails. In searching for a new job, in looking for interviews, in sending pitches for freelance stories.

So, I am immediately incorporating a few of Godin’s points into my style and thought they might help you, too – regardless of profession. I have some thoughts myself.

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Squidoo: What the hell is it and why am I on it

I don’t know.

It seems a bit like Associated Content, using lenses to create niche content on specific issues for free, promising traffic, noteriety and even potential advertising cash to users.

For the time being, I am subscribing to the same pathology that brought me to MySpace and other social media. Brand my name. So, Chris Wink has a Squidoo page now.

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