People probably don't get it, but I write "Thank you for your time" out by hand at the bottom of my emails, above the pre-generated sig lines.
Time is my one finite commodity.
If someone puts a project request up on a site or write to me asking for a bid, they've spent time on that, and in return they're looking forward to quality in the response. I find that many of my competition on such venues are a disaster, a blight on my industry. Their responses are form letters, no consideration is given to whether they fit the job or why, generic quotes are pasted in, if any time has been spent on the response at all. They're quite stingy with their time, and I'll bet it shows when they're on the clock.
When I write to someone, I'm hoping that they read what I have to say. From the moment they open my email, to the moment they close it, their time is being spent on me. Time they will never get back. They're moments closer to the end of life on this fair Earth. My response, even if it ends up being the bid they choose, has just sucked away some portion of their time above and beyond the responses I have no control over.
I send out my blessings for the time they are spending on me every time I write "Thank you for your time" and click send.
At the same time, I have to acknowledge that the return-on-investment of me spending my time on these people hand-writing to them probably far overshadows the quality of responses I receive, if any. I get few if any clients through such competitive venues. That's why, if I know I don't fit a job, I am not going to waste my time writing to the person, unless--
Unless somehow I'm going to serve them in a very quick and definitive fashion.
I often write to people who seem to need a little advice. I have no intention of taking their job, it probably doesn't fit me, but something they said implied a need for direction. Sometimes I'm misguided, and should keep my fingers on the mouse, move on to the next ad. Sometimes I earn a bit of respect for my wisdom.
A long time ago I decided that the chance to help people is well worth spending my time on. If I save someone a moment of time, maybe that's one more time they smile at a child, blow dandelion seeds into the wind, procrastinate one less chore. Perhaps I'm saving some people far more than just a moment. Minutes. Hours, even! Those bundles of moments we measure.
I want to take a moment, if you have read this post, to thank you for your time. I really appreciate that you've listened to my babbling on this. This is a very important and dear topic to me.
With luck, I will eventually have sufficient referrals, print ads, and repeat business to leave off reading Craigslist and other posting venues, and spend more time creating, advertising, dreaming, and contributing to the works of others. In the meantime, here's a toast to the customers I have found at such places, the associates within my field, and to all the moments where people really connect and collaborate, whether for a minute or a month, and then sit back and salute a job well done.
[tags]time, gratitude, clients[/tags]