How to Get Clients: Can a Great Image Be Bad for Business?

by | Sep 30, 2008

colorful wire The colorful insulation on electrical wire prevents interference from other electrical sources.

Like wire insulation, your marketing prevents interference in the form of confusion between you and others in your field.

But, like electrical wire, if the insulation isn’t stripped back at the ends, the juice won’t flow from one wire into another.

Making a powerful connection with your just-right clients requires a similar peeling back. For real connection to happen—for the juice to flow—you have to peel back some of your carefully crafted professional image.

That’s how to get clients.

Business Insulation

It’s natural to want your business to have an attractive and professional image. After all, that’s how you get clients, right?

Well yes, and no.

A good image may attract interest, but it takes more than interest to get clients.

It takes connection. And if all people see is your professional image, there’s no way for a prospective client to connect.

Connection and Risk

Let’s face it, working for yourself is a risky proposition. Not only is your livelihood on the line, you can feel terribly exposed and vulnerable. Your prospective clients are also vulnerable, wanting to explore a possible connection, but not yet sure if there will be a fit. They have to take risks to approach us.

If we’re over-insulated, if there’s not enough bare wire showing, the risk is going to be one-sided. Both parties will feel a disconnect.

If you don’t understand the importance of bare wire, you’ll work even harder on the insulation, trying to repair the disconnect by polishing your image. And the more you work on your professional image, the less connected you—and your prospective clients—feel.

Is it any wonder that so many Accidental Entrepreneurs find the very thought of promoting themselves exhausting? Why they stumble over the question of how to get clients?

Peel Back the Insulation

When you peel back the insulation around your professional image, you make it possible for people to get a fuller sense of who you are.

And the people who are blessed by you just the way you are are your just-right clients.

Think about it. When your clients get to experience you, the way you really are, there’s nothing to impede the connection. Assuming the fit is right (and it will be if you aren’t hiding behind layers of image), everybody wins.

Don’t Strip the Whole Wire

While bare wire is essential for making electrical connections, you need to keep the insulation. Without it, the connection is subject to interference and can be a fire hazard.

And when it comes to connecting with just-right clients, a completely bare connection is subject to all kinds of background noise from your private life. And where privacy is violated, a blow up is not out of the question.

So what do you insulate and what do you reveal?

Three Keys to Effective Connection

If you’re connecting wires, you don’t strip the middle of the wire, you strip the ends you want to twist together. Then you wrap the new connection in insulating tape.

The same principle applies when deciding how much of your own “juice” to expose in business.

1. Reveal vulnerability at the point of connection.

2. Share only what is relevant to the connection.

3. Protect the new connection.

Reveal Vulnerability at the Point of Connection

Think about where and how your just-right clients encounter you. Are they coming to your Web site after a Google search? Are they reading an ezine forwarded by a colleague? Or are they meeting you at a networking lunch?

Each point of connection offers unique opportunities for revealing your humanity. For example, you can use video on your Web site, taking care that it communicates your real personality. For a great example of this, take a look at Gary Vaynerchuk’s videos.

Share Only What is Relevant

A story about your biggest goof can be charming on a Web page, where it appears in the context of ample evidence of your skill and professionalism.

But the same story could seem tasteless if you tell it to someone you’ve just met at the buffet table.

Protect the New Connection

No matter how you make connections, you want your just-right clients to feel safe and respected. If you often make fun of yourself, let folks know you aren’t going to turn their stories into comedy.

Its’ All in the Connection

Like wire insulation, marketing prevents interference in the form of confusion between you and others in your field.

But, like electrical wire, if the insulation isn’t stripped back at the ends, the juice won’t flow from one wire into another.

For real connection to happen between you and your just-right clients, you need a balance between vulnerability and protection.

And now for a word from our sponsor. 😉

Getting clients doesn’t have to be exhausting. Find out how to get more clients, more naturally, without any additional marketing or promotion. (In fact, you’ll probably do less marketing than you are doing now.)