When we’re nervous, a lot of us spend a lot of time focusing on ourselves; how we feel and how we’re perceived, and maybe how we’d rather be somewhere else. Our brains are wired to flee in the face of “danger”. When we walk into a situation that makes us feel completely inadequate and imposter syndrome kicks in, it’s almost impossible not to resist what our bodies are telling us – to run as fast as we can out of there! Even if that means losing out on important client relationship building opportunities.
I’ve been there but I changed my mindset and my client relationships have since soared.
Running a business isn’t something you’re used to doing. It’s only natural to feel not worthy enough to serve clients when you haven’t yet done it or have even just done it a handful of times. When I left my office job to work for myself I dreaded having conversations with potential clients. This makes absolutely no sense. After all, I should have been completely ecstatic that people were inquiring about my writing services! Instead, my anxious thoughts convinced me people would flee once we had a conversation. I convinced myself that I would come across as inexperienced and not capable. Meanwhile I had already proven myself moonlighting as a freelancer while working in my corporate job. I had positive testimonials from clients and knew I was a strong writer but, because I had not yet worked completely on my own without the safety net of a day job, I felt afraid (and naked! Naked and afraid!). I remember, clearly, nervously taking phone calls from people who found my website and thinking about what I was going to say next. Because of this, I wasn’t doing a good job at listening to what they needed. Of course I felt inadequate and nervous. I was focusing on myself when I should have been focusing on the client.
Focus on the client, not on yourself.
When I became conscious of the fact that I was placing too much energy on how I was behaving and not enough on the needs of my client, the way I felt about my abilities shifted. Someone once told me that when you listen to your surroundings you stop paying attention to your thoughts. When you stop paying attention to your thoughts you calm down.
When you stop paying attention to your thoughts you calm down.
Listening to your surroundings is an easy, in the moment way, to take a break from your anxiety. Focusing on your clients and developing relationships is doing just this. You’re also providing value and professionalism while relieving yourself from that voice in your head telling you you’re a fraud! Next time you’re approached by a prospective client, remember it’s not about you it’s about them and the value that you know you can provide. Remember, when you meet with a client, prospective or current, take your own attention away from how you’re feeling by laying the groundwork for a positive client relationship:
Ask questions that will help you to understand their company and industry. For example, what industry are you? What are some trends you’re noticing in your industry right now? What are your company’s goals and objectives for the year?
Listen to their needs, make notes, and give him/her a breakdown of what you understood from the conversation at the end of it.
Summarize the next steps. In addition to listening to the client, provide a summary of what you can offer and what action will be required based on what he or she needs.
If the conversation drifts into non-business topics like the weather, last night’s hockey game, the crazy thing that happened on that reality show this week, or an upcoming vacation, go with it! Keep the conversation friendly and down to earth. People buy from people they like and trust and easy conversations that don’t necessarily have anything to do with business are what builds trust and likability.
Next time you feel unworthy of someone’s business, turn those thoughts around by focusing all of your attention on them. Have you tried this? Did it work for you? Share this post with your friends and family!
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