When you work for yourself, trustworthiness is your most important asset. In good times and bad, clients and customers patronize those they trust and avoid those they don’t.
I’m betting that makes sense to you. But are you as understanding and patient with the process clients need to go through before they can trust you enough to hire you?
And are you doing your part to support that process?
They Don’t Know You (Yet)
When you’re a good person and care a lot about your work, it’s natural to expect people to get that you are trustworthy without being told. If a prospective client or referral source asks about your sincerity, competence or reliability, you may be defensive.
But think about it from their point of view. They don’t know that the idea of having an unpaid library fine makes you break out in a cold sweat.
Marketing Is Doing Your Part to Build Trust
When you take the trouble to market your work well, you are recognizing that your just-right clients need time and information before they can fully trust you. You agree to do your part to build the relationship.
It takes humility to market well. You have to bow to the fact that skill and sincerity are not enough unless you somehow communicate them in the marketplace. And you need to accept that it will take time and repetition for that message to get across.
Selling Completes the Connection
Selling services, which I resisted long after I became peaceful about marketing, is another duty you owe your just-right clients.
Selling completes the process that marketing begins. Selling is making a clear and easy to understand offer to people who might want to hire you or buy your work.
Unless you sell, any hiring or buying that happens is essentially random. Accidental.
Marketing without selling is like displaying the balloons and cake without sending an invitation to the party.
Sell as a Celebration
Get quiet and go inside. Imagine a customer or client you have really enjoyed working with. Make one up if you are just starting out.
Now see yourself doing your best work, as if your work flows through you to them and beyond. Who knows why this is so right? Who is to say what makes it so beautiful? All you know is that it is.
Now imagine yourself talking to a prospective client about your work from the same space. Not selling in the sense of cold-hearted, self-interested persuasion, but selling services the way an inspired chanteuse sells a song to her audience. This is selling as celebration. This is selling with full commitment but without attachment to results.
Shift perspectives and take on the role of client or customer. Start by bringing to mind a merchant or professional that you love to patronize. Allow yourself to experience the joy of investing in something that really works for you. Notice the dignity that arises from paying for and receiving something you value.
Now let yourself become aware of what you needed to know and feel in order to comfortably make this investment. What questions did you have? What concerns? What did you need in order to feel good about your decision to buy?
Notice how you arrived at the point of trust. What shaped your impressions? What made you feel comfortable?
Your answers show you what you need to do when marketing and selling services to your own just-right clients.
Approach the matter of building trust playfully, but play full out. If you do, you’ll be amazed at how natural self promotion can be. Talking to prospective clients will become easier. You’ll find yourself quoting the right fee instead of trying to guess what the client might be willing to pay. You’ll come to know the delight of doing your best work for clients, that it really fits.
Best of all, you will have radically shifted your relationship with yourself. When you work conscientiously at building trust one tiny step at a time, you come to trust yourself regardless of imperfections.
And that is something to celebrate!
Image by Patrick McDonald via Flickr