Get Your FREE Full-Length Audio of
"
How to Work When, Where and How You Want"

Quit your job and find work you love with Valerie Young.
 
 

Enjoyed by 23,000+ people!

Privacy Policy: We will never sell, rent or trade your email. Period.

Click here to return to the Changing Course home page

live life on purpose work at what you love follow your own road

Next Issue Archives Previous Issue

ChangingCourse.com, Find Your Life Mission and Live It

Issue 124

September 14, 2005

About Your Subscription

Prefer the text version? Change Your Subscription

Compass

Changing Course is dedicated to helping you:

~Live Life on Purpose
~Work at What You Love
~Follow Your Own Road

Inside Today's Issue

Featured Article

Reflections on a Different Kind of "Boot Camp"

Featured Resource

10 Steps to Escaping the Job World

Guest Article

How to Harvest Your Sweetest Dreams

Upcoming Workshops & Teleclasses

Resources for A Change

If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success. ~ John D. Rockefeller

Reflections on a Different Kind of
“Boot Camp”: How a Single Course Really Can Change the Course of a Life

By Valerie YoungValerie and her dog, Cokie

The following article originally appeared in the October 2003 issue of Changing Course. I wrote it shortly after returning from attending the American Writers and Artists Institute's FastTrack to Success program where I was asked to speak on the Ten Steps to Escaping the Job World and Creating the Life You Really Want. (FYI, the CD of this presentation is this week’s Featured Resource.)

I’ve attended three of these annual programs in all. This year’s program has an impressive line up of big name speakers. (You can learn more about this October’s FastTrack to Success Workshop in the Upcoming Workshops and Teleclasses section below.)

While the people leading the program and the content are always of the highest caliber, for me the real story has always been the attendees. The people I met came from very diverse backgrounds – a seamstress, military officer, television producer, college student, retiree just to name just a few. But they all shared a common goal – to live and work on their own terms by learning how to succeed as freelance copywriters. Regardless of your dreams I hope their stories inspire you take steps to escape the job world and create the life you really want.

Boot camp is the place you go for basic training. I can assure you however, there was nothing "basic" about the boot camp I just returned from.

For four days in picturesque Delray Beach, Florida, I had the great privilege of joining 100 enthusiastic – and very determined – dreamers. I was there as a guest of the American Writers & Artists Institute's (AWAI), who had asked me to address the annual (and sold out) FastTrack to Success Workshop.

The people who attended the workshop, affectionately known as "Copywriting Boot Camp," all came looking to make a major career – and lifestyle – change by training to become professional freelance copywriters. Simply put, copywriters use words to sell products, services, and/or causes.

While plenty of copywriters work for advertising agencies or in the marketing departments of big companies, freelance copywriters thrive on being, well... free. Not only do freelance copywriters get to call their own shots but it’s a portable occupation. As freelancers, they can make their living from literally anywhere in the world with an Internet connection – and they can make an excellent living in the process.

I could tell you about the big name writers who taught the workshop. People like:

  • Copywriting guru and prolific author, Bob Bly, who has written a whopping 50 books including Secrets of a Freelance Writer: How to Make $85,000 a Year...

  • Or, Michael Masterson, the brains behind the AWAI's self-paced course called Michael Masterson's Course in Six Figure Copywriting (TheWritersLife.com/ph/cc16). Michael is a master at taking popular misconceptions so called copywriting "experts" have about what works and turning them on their head...

  • Or, Jennifer Stevens. Jen wrote the AWAI's Travel Writer Course and is a highly successful freelancer and frequent traveler

I could tell you about some of the special guest speakers... people like:

  • Sara Pond, Creative Director at Nightingale Conant, the world leader in personal development who shared the secrets of writing for the self-improvement market as well as why she'd rather hire AWAI-trained copywriters

  • Or, self-promotion expert, Ilise Benum who shared her winning strategies for helping new copywriters land clients... fast. (For free self-promotion tips from Ilise visit ArtofSelfPromotion.com

And I could go on and on about how workshop participants all had an equal shot at turning initial assignments into their first paid writing job. Or, how if the "winning" participants' copy outperforms what the client is already using (known in the business as the "control copy") that they'll earn an additional royalty fee each and every single time their copy is used. (Royalties are a big reason why copywriting can be so lucrative.)

But I'm a student of dreamers, not copywriting.

So as great as it was, the real story for me wasn't the course, but the participants who are actively engaged in changing the course of their lives. I learned a ton from Michael, Jen, Ilise, and all the other great speakers. But the real education for me came from getting to know the participants themselves. I got to hear their reasons for taking the course, their aspirations... and their challenges. I think you'll find their stories as inspiring as I did.

For example, I'd barely arrived at the workshop when I was approached by a soft-spoken woman from North Las Vegas named Linda. "You're Valerie Young," she said grinning widely. "I just wanted to say thank you." "For what" I asked.

Linda paused, and in a voice not much louder than a whisper, she said something I'd hear from a least a dozen people over the next few days: "You're the reason I'm here." (I could have sworn she had tears in her eyes when she said it, but then the lighting was not all that bright and after all, what's there to get emotional about... it's only a copywriting course, right?)

Linda went on to explain that it was my newsletter that first introduced her to the AWAI. Right now she's working at a health club as a massage therapist. The money is good but it’s physically demanding. More importantly, Linda says, she's just really tired of working for someone else. Instead of completely throwing in the towel and massage oil, Linda plans to set up a small private practice but focus primarily on the far less physically taxing business of copywriting.

Then there's Raymona Abouzeid. Raymona lives in a rural area of Michigan where
jobs – even the low paying kind – are scarce. Despite having a B.S. in Human Growth & Development right now she's working as a cashier. It's what Barbara Sher would call the "good enough job" – it pays the bills, takes up no more than 40 hours a week, and basically allows Raymona to build her dream on the side.

How does a cashier from Shelby, Michigan, find her way to a copywriting course in Florida? As it turns out Raymona's mother, Elizabeth, got a packet in the mail on the benefits of being a freelance copywriter. Since her mom isn't looking for a new career, she tossed it. A while later another envelope arrived. This time, Raymona's mom decided, "This must be for my daughter." How right she was. The way Raymona sees it, finding out about this copywriting course was nothing short of "providence."

Like I said, everyone had their own reasons for signing up for being there. Some, like Kammy Thurman, already run their own freelance writing business. Kammy came looking to add direct mail copywriting to her repertoire.

Kammy also has a more personal goal. Her husband has a job in the mining industry in Billings, Montana, but his real passion is photography. Kammy and her husband are on what I call the Family Plan. They're both actively supporting one another's goal of doing work they love while being work-from-home parents to their three young children.

Like a lot of people, twenty-something Raj from Morgantown, West Virginia, sees copywriting as a means to an end. After earning his degree in broadcast journalism from the University of West Virginia, Raj took a job in a recording studio. He likes his job, he says, but his real passion is writing music. What drew Raj to freelance copywriting is the opportunity to earn a good living while freeing up his time to work on his music.

Ditto for Sharon Hetrick from Malibu, California. Unfortunately, with over 100 attendees I didn't get to actually meet Sharon at the workshop. But I did receive a lovely card in the mail a few days later. After 15 years in real estate, Sharon told me she was ready to go after her dream of being a playwright. I'll let Sharon tell you the rest:

"Well, I have quit selling real estate, have started a new business in copywriting – and went back to college... My first play was read by actors last month. It is a wonderful new life. My copywriting career allows me to still feed by family and affords the time to write my plays."

I was amazed at how many international participants had made the trip. For Brit, David Litton being self-employed is nothing new. After being downsized ten years ago he started his own business conducting training programs for clients all over the world.

Although his business was very successful, at 57, and recently married, Dave was tired of living out of a suitcase. He says he never fancied himself a copywriter but figures he's done enough writing during his curriculum design days that learning a new way to use words would be an easy stretch. And with that, a new career was born!

Dave phoned from England yesterday to tell me he'd double-mortgaged his house and is building a villa on the side of a mountain in Spain where he plans to permanently relocate his family, including his 87-year-old father whom Dave looks after. Despite living in Europe, Dave says he plans to focus on the U.S. market and is busy brushing up on his American slang.

Unlike Dave, Patrick says he always knew he wanted to be a writer. While serving with the U.S. military in Germany, Patrick met and married a German woman and decided to make Germany his home. The 29-year-old recently left his job as a government contractor ("too many headaches," says Dave) and is now living the far more carefree life of a full-time copywriter.

Winner of the "Proactively Planning for a Change Award" has to go to Captain Kim Anderson. At 30, Kim is already a 13-year veteran of the Canadian Air Force. Right now Kim wears a Canadian uniform while stationed in the Pentagon, where she's a communication and electronic engineering specialist. When she retires from the military on October 31st, Kim figures she'll be well positioned to transition right into a whole new career.

What surprised me more than the large international contingent was the wide range in ages. There were probably close to two dozen retirees there, each eager to use copywriting as a means to earn extra income yet still enjoy the independent life. When asked the question, "Why copywriting?" 76-year-old Bud Ingersall, a twice retired computer programmer and consultant from Navaree, Florida put it this way, "I figure I can write letters so I can learn to do this too."

On the other end of the age continuum is 20-year-old college business major, Anik Singal. Anik is a very enterprising young man who has already started his own on-line business while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average (GPA). Following the advice to "teach what you know," Anik has written an eBook for high school and college students and their parents outlining study methods he says can easily improve anyone's grades in half the study time (To learn more about Anik's eBook visit Clickbank.net/?greatgpa/bettergpa

I think what most impressed me about Anik though, is his dogged determination to follow his own path, despite stiff resistance from his parents. You see Anik is a first-generation Indian-American who's eyes light up when he talks about his love for figuring out what makes people tick, writing, and entrepreneurship.

When it comes to choosing a career track however, Anik's father has other ideas... two to be exact – engineer or doctor. That's it. (If you've seen the movie Bend It Like Beckman, just substitute copywriter for soccer player and you'll get what Anik is up against.) For Anik, the hard part was convincing his dad to let him come to Copywriting Boot Camp. What was clear from talking with him though is that this very creative and determined young man will have NO trouble succeeding at whatever he puts his mind to.

By far the most exciting part for me was running into people I'd met at last years' Boot Camp. One participant who was back for a refresher was Beth Erikson. Beth is from rural Minnesota where, like Raymona, jobs are few and far between. Before launching her copywriting career Beth worked at a small department store doing alterations. She earned $7 a hem.

Shortly after completing the copywriting course, Beth got her first paid writing job. When she looked at that $300 check Beth says all she could think was, "Wow! That would take a LOT of hems!" In two years, Beth went from earning minimum wage to becoming, not only a successful full-time copywriter, but a published author and online newsletter publisher to boot.

Besides launching a whole new career – and life – Beth got something else out of Boot Camp. A chance meeting outside their hotel rooms was the beginning of a now close friendship with another returning participant, Vickie Heron of Denton, Texas. Although they see each other but once a year at Boot Camp, Beth and Vickie regularly review one another's work and even pass along assignments during busy times. That kind of support can be invaluable when you work alone.

Then there's 29-year-old Susan Clark. When I met Susan last year she was working as a news writer and producer for the WB television affiliate in Los Angeles. Like the vast majority of Boot Camp attendees, Susan had also been a student of the AWAI's self-paced learning course (which by the way, she too learned about at Changing Course). Since she was working full time (and as she put it, "wanted to have a social life too,") it took her about a year to finish the course. You can learn more about this course at TheWritersLife.com/ph/cc16/

And what a difference a year makes. Remember the assignment I told you about where Boot Camp attendees have a shot at their first paid writing assignment? Well, Susan's submission beat the control in 2002. This success led to another assignment and another until, after 12 short months, she had enough work lined up to quit her job and write full-time.

Oh yeah, remember those tears I thought I saw in Linda's eyes? Turns out I was right. Linda and I got to chatting in the ladies room a few days later. She said she wanted to once again thank me for putting the AWAI and their copywriting course on her radar screen. Suddenly Linda started to weep.

After I heard her story, I understood where the tears were coming from. Six months ago this vibrant looking 53-year-old suffered a stress-induced stroke that left her paralyzed on one side of her body. On top of putting in a ton of hours at her job as a massage therapist at a local health spa (ironic isn't it), she was coping with lots of challenges in her personal life – the empty nest syndrome, the end of an important relationship...

Yet, with her health back and a new career on the horizon, Linda explained at this point that her tears were tears of joy. Although she'd signed up for the AWAI's self-paced copywriting program months earlier, Linda says she'd never made it a priority. Instead it was something she planned to get to "some day."

The stroke was her wake up call. That was it. Linda told herself it was now or never. In Linda's case, the chance to earn a good living without the long hours and the stress that comes with working for someone else is nothing short of a lifeline. Getting herself to Copywriting Boot Camp was Linda's way of turning "Someday" into Today.

People sometimes ask me why I'm so gung ho on the American Writers & Artists Institute and their copywriting, travel writing, resume business, and other courses. The answer is simple... I've seen how these courses can and do change lives.

While everyone had their own reasons for being at the workshop, they all agreed on one thing... the time had come to take control of their life. As the great hockey player Wayne Gretsky once said, "I always miss 100% of the shots I don't take." Whatever your dream, your age, your geography, or your circumstances, it's never too late to take a shot at it.

On a personal note, everybody with a little marketing know-how says they can write copy. I did. When I left my marketing job to start my own business I wrote all of my own marketing copy. Seeing AWAI self-paced course and attending three Boot Camps changed all that. Now I’ll only use AWAI trained copywriters to write my copy. I’ve hired Beth Erikson, Jen Stevens, and Susan Clark. To give you an idea of what copywriters do or what kinds of fees than can earn I’ll share what each wrote and what they were compensated:

Beth and I bartered two years of ad space valued at over $1500 for writing copy for two of my eBooks – Finding Your True Calling (ChangingCourse.com/findingyourtruecalling.htm)  and Yes You Can (ChangingCourse.com/yesyoucan.htm)

Since she was a relatively new writer at the time, I paid Susan $1,000 to write the sales copy for How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are (ChangingCourse.com/handbook.htm)

Jen is a seasoned copywriting pro and one of the best in the business. Jen earned $2500 to write the sales copy for Making Dreams Happen (ChangingCourse.com/makingdreamshappen.htm). That’s a lot of money for a small business owner like me to spend, but that initial investment has been paid many times over. While their styles are different if you read carefully you’ll see some common approaches – approaches anyone can learn IF they’re trained by the best.

This year’s FastTrack to Success is happening Wednesday, October 5th - Saturday, October 8thin Del Ray Beach, Florida and features such big name speakers as Brian Tracy, Jay Abraham, Bob Bly and others… including Jen Stevens.

If you’re thinking of going, don’t wait. This course always sells out. To learn more about the American Writers & Artists Institute's Fast Track course visitAWAIOnline.com/learncopywriting

About the Author

Off the beaten path career counselor, Valerie Young, abandoned her corporate cubicle to become the Dreamer in Residence atChangingCourse.com, offering free resources to help you discover your life mission and live it. An expert on the Imposter Syndrome, she's presented her How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are program to over 30,000 people.

Find more articles written by Valerie atChangingCourse.com/articles/

When people go to work, they shouldn't have to leave their hearts at home.
~ Betty Bender

Featured Resource

10 Steps to Escaping the Job World and Creating the Life You Really Want

What if living the life you love and doing work you love were just ten steps away? For the first time ever, off the beaten career path consultant Valerie Young's 10 Steps to Escaping the Job World and Creating the Life You Really Want is available on CD. 10 Steps to Escaping the Job World and Creating the Life You Really Want

You'll hear Valerie share the step-by-step process she used to say goodbye to a 90 mile a day commute to her corporate cubicle. It's a process anyone can use. If you're ready to get off the fast track so you can enjoy the freedom and quality of life that you deserve this CD is for you.

This lively 45 minute presentation was recorded at the American Writers and Artists Institute's Fast Track to Success program. If you think a presentation can't change your life? Think again.

Learn more at changingcourse.com

If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there. ~ Lewis Carroll

Compass

The Changing Course Newsletter
Copyright 2004
Lisa Tarrant, Editor
Valerie Young, Publisher
info@changingcourse.com
www.ChangingCourse.com
7 Ripley Road
Montague, MA 01351

Compass

All About Your Subscription

You're welcome to forward this newsletter in its entirety to other dreamers.

If someone sent this to you, don't depend on your friend for this great information. Get your complimentary subscription by emailing subscribe@ChangingCourse.com

Please do not reply to this message.

Subscribe or Change Your Address: ChangingCourse.com/ezine.htm

Previous Issues: changingcoursenewsletter.com

If you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self. ~ Napoleon Hill

Guest Article

How to Harvest Your Sweetest Dreams

By Nancy Bishop

"Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal." ~ Pamela Vaull Starr

The days are getting longer now and the sun sits higher in the sky. The sugar maples stretch after a long cold winter. Soon their sweet sap will run and fires will be lit at maple sugarhouses for all night boiling vigils. The fires must be continually stoked, babied and watched. Dreams are cooking. You can see the evidence as white smoke billows out from the rooftops of maple sugarhouses. Sweet steam rises filling the air. The farmer's dream is to boil the sap collected from the maple tree into maple syrup in a span of 4 to 6 weeks.

If you ever visit a sugarhouse during boiling season I think you will find a happy crew of farmers, neighbors and friends talking about the past winter and making predictions for this year's maple season. People support one another during the long boiling time while the dream is cooking. Making maple syrup is not a venture "to go alone" as the process is demanding. Temperatures have to be watched, the fires can't go out and every year the season depends on just the right weather conditions.

The farmer's job is to be ready with lines tapped into the sugar maples, enough wood to keep the evaporator boiling the sap and good company with people who share the passion. In the end, the farmer's dream of making maple syrup will be come pouring down on our pancakes and waffles.

We can learn a lot from the maple sugar farmer about cooking dreams. Like the farmer, if we are going to realize our dreams, we must make them a priority. We need to stay focused by keeping our attention on the end result; the maple syrup. Always share the boil time with other passionate dreamers. It makes the eventual obstacles and distractions easier to overcome and passion is contagious. Most of all be flexible; the weather isn't always predictable.

Just as the farmer has modernized the process of collecting and boiling sap to be more efficient, we may need to upgrade and look for additional tools and resources to make our dreams a reality.

Remember some dreams, like maple syrup, come with an expiration date. If we don't do something about them they will eventually evaporate in the bucket.

About the Author

Nancy Bishop is a life coach and inspirational writer. She publishes a free monthly newsletter. For more information visit her website at YourLifeYourWay.com

Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching. ~ Satchel Paige

Upcoming Workshops & Teleclasses

How to Support Your Wanderlust Teleclass with Barbara Winter

Been bitten by the travel bug and need a way to finance your dream? You don't have to win the lottery in order to see the world. Finding a way to fund your travel dreams can be a creative adventure in and of itself. While many might forego travel or spend years scrimping to save up for a big excursion, there are other options for those willing to take an entrepreneurial approach.

Numerous opportunities are available to those wishing to set up shop in the global village. If you think you might enjoy becoming an entrepreneurial gypsy, this seminar will introduce you to some of those opportunities and show you how to generate ideas of your own. Here's what we'll be covering:

  • Become clear about the role you want travel to play in your life.

  • How to make travel a regular activity in your life.

  • Ways to earn money as you go.

  • A frequently overlooked, surefire moneymaker.

  • How to create a portable business.

  • Off the beaten path sources of support.

  • How to use a hobby or avocation to fund and enhance travel.

  • Ways to get paid to travel (other than working for the airlines).

If you're ready to travel farther and stay longer, this seminar will show you what others are doing and how you can, too. Get out your suitcases, grab your passport and camera — but, first, take this teleclass!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005
8:30 pm to 10:00 pm EDT
Cost: $33 U.S.
Learn more at ChangingCourse.com/courses.htm

AWAI’s Fast Track to Copywriting Success Bootcamp

This action-packed four-day event has quickly become the place for established and aspiring copywriters alike to meet, mingle, and raise a glass with industry pros from around the country.

It’s where you’ll hear top copywriters in our business – people like Michael Masterson, Bob Bly, Clayton Makepeace, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Don Mahoney, John Forde, Paul Hollingshead, and others – talk to you in an intimate, personal setting about what you need to do to become a top-notch, in-demand copywriter.

But that’s not all …

You’ll have a chance to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with top copywriters and “pick their brains” about the business and the art of writing.

You’ll meet marketing representatives from some of the biggest direct-marketing firms in the country – Agora Publishing, Nightingale-Conant, Motley Fool, Sendtec, and more. And they’re not here just for South Florida’s sun and sand. They’re here to hand outreal writing opportunities to anyone who wants them … and to find the next up-and-coming copywriters that they can add to their Rolodexes.

You’ll hear from marketing legends like Jay Abraham, who’ll reveal his renowned secrets to selling anything to anyone at any price. (Jay’s insights alone are worth the price of admission. Remember, this is the guy who charges – and gets – $5,000 an hour for his time.)

Looking for a little kick in the pants? Brian Tracy – the most listened to author on personal and business success in the world today – will reveal his proven secrets to achieving immediate success in any endeavor you choose.

All this – and lots more – is waiting for you at this year’s Fast Track to Copywriting Success Bootcamp … our biggest and most information-crammed event ever.

As it stands today, just 47 seats remain. And given the high demand of past years ...  I can safely tell you that those will go fast.

Wednesday, October 5 - Saturday, October 8, 2005
Learn more at AWAIOnline.com/learncopywriting

The Ultimate Travel Photographer’s Workshop

This November in the Tropical, Color-Splashed Bahamas, You Can…

  • Learn from professional photographers the techniques they use to shoot pictures that sell for $400, $600 -- and even higher. The Ultimate Travel Photographer's Workshop
  • Get hands-on practice applying your new skills -- while you explore some of the world’s most enchanting islands.
  • Discover how travel photographers create a need for their photos -- and double or even triple your photography income.
  • PLUS -- Learn all the ins-and-outs of researching and writing photo essays and guidebooks -- including hands-on experience interviewing executives and writing critiques of some of the most famous resorts in the Bahamas.

Your instructors are travel writer and professional photographer Blair Howard (Blair has sold over 3,000 photos in his career), photographer and frame shop owner Rich Wagner (I sat in on a shorter version of this course that Rich taught and this guy knows his stuff), and former editor of International Living magazine, Jennifer Stevens, who will be sharing the insider's scoop on what publishers are looking for. This November, please join Blair, Rich, and Jen and find out just how easy it is to turn your snapshots and reviews into cash… and enjoy the freedom, independence, and travel that freelance photography and writing delivers.

Wednesday, November 2 - Saturday, November 5, 2005
Paradise Island, Bahamas
Learn more at TheTravelwritersLife.com/ccbahamas

 

Compass

Are you passionate about the environment? Are you thinking about starting an environmentally-friendly business or building environmentally-friendly practices into your current business? So-called "green" businesses are a growing trend ripe opportunity. The Green Festival happening in Washington, DC, September 24 & 25th and San Francisco November
5 & 6 features speakers (GreenFestivals.org) on such topics as green careers, green funerals, and proving once again that you really can generate income from your passion, "beer activist" Chris O'Brian will talk about the organic beer movement(BeerActivist.com). Also features 350 exhibits on green careers/education, natural health and body, natural home and garden, green business practices, and more. Even if this not your thing, for $10 it's a good way to open your eyes to the wide range of options out there.

Compass

 

Resources for a Change

The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship With Money and Life, by Lynne Twist

I learned about global activist (now how cool is it to have THAT on your business card!) Lynne Twist and her work because she's speaking at the Green Festival (see previous resource). I haven't actually read The Soul of Moneybut don't have to read it to already be impressed with someone who not only turned her values into her vocation but whose efforts have raised over $200 million to help eradicate poverty worldwide. If the reviews are any indication this is a good book for anyone who wants to rethink the meaning of money in order to make a difference in the world. Learn more atSoulOfMoney.org

Hang Out With Entrepreneurs

One of the best ways to start thinking like an entrepreneur is to hang out with them. Organizations like:

  • The National Association of Women Business Owners provide women business owners with local, regional, and national networking opportunities, leadership and business development training, speaking opportunities and more. (NAWBO.org)
     

  • The Chamber of Commerce provides business owners with networking, training, and other business-enhancing resources. For example at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce site (USChamber.com/default) you can access a free Sales & Marketing Tool Kit with loads of information on starting an online business, taxes, import-export, and more. The London Chamber of Commerce (LondonChamber.co.uk) provides members with mailing lists, marketing data, and will even help search for grants. Do a Google search to find resources in your city or country. Local chapters put you in touch with local movers and shakers - and you don't have to have an existing business to join.