By Justine Clay
Have you ever marveled at the sheer choice that’s available to us when it comes to purchasing services or products? I have. For example, I’m a big believer in alternative/complementary health practices (I need all the help I can get!), so when a friend suggested acupuncture to me a few years ago, I was happy to try it. I tried a couple of practitioners, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Disappointed that perhaps I wasn’t as alternative as I thought, I wondered if acupuncture just wasn’t right for me. That is, until a friend introduced me to Lida. As soon as I met her, I felt understood and knew I was in good hands. Over the years she has become a trusted support and friend whom I happily refer to others. Everyone wins!
So, what is that X-factor that enables us to connect with some people and not others? And more importantly, how can we mindfully cultivate connection? Here are a few suggestions:
Align with your true skill or talent
Do you ever feel that what you do for a living isn’t exactly what you’d hoped for yourself? That you would be happier if you were more aligned with your vision and mission? Enthusiasm for what you do not only feels great, it’s contagious and well worth going after. Here are a couple of questions that might help get you started:
- What advice are you giving away on a regular basis?
- What would you do all day for free?
The answers might prompt a big A-HA moment, or inspire a little tweak. Either way, they’re worth asking.
Don’t hide your light under a bushel (as my mum would say)
Most of us were taught not to show-off or brag, right? No one likes a blowhard, but I would like to point out the difference between bragging and owning what you have to offer. By hiding or minimizing your talents/services, you’re effectively depriving people who really need them of the opportunity to work with you. It’s a disservice to you and to them, so step out into the light.
Focus on the needs of your client, rather than yourself
Our business does not exist so that we can share our process, it exists to serve others. When we keep our focus where it should be (on our clients and their needs), the connection will follow.
Share experiences and stories
Clients like working with warm, relatable people, so feel free to share stories and experiences that foster connection. I recently led a workshop at the Freelancer’s Union and one of the audience members kindly emailed me to say that the anecdotes I shared helped her get over the feeling that she was doing something wrong and that she had far more resources and abilities than she thought she had. How wonderful is that!
Have a social media presence
Whether you’re on board or not, social media is an integral part of our businesses and lives. You don’t need to be attached to a device 24/7, but you do need to have a presence that represents you well and that you maintain regularly. If you’re just starting out, here are a few tips:
- Start with LinkedIn, Facebook page and twitter. Once you’ve got those covered, move on to other platforms if you wish.
- Decide what your positioning is. Are you an expert, a taste-maker, a curator of information? Are you visual, or are you writing articles. Once you’ve decided, be consistent and post regularly
- Have a graphic designer brand your profiles so that your potential clients’ first impression of you is consistent, no matter how they find you.
Get out from behind your computer
I know it’s old-school, but one of the best way to get out and connect with others is to meet them in person. Find out where your ideal clients are hanging out e.g. the AIGA, or Freelancers Union and attend a couple of events. It’s actually really fun!
I’d love to hear from you. How do you build a maintain connection with your clients? Please post a comment below and share your connection strategies.