Four years ago, I had the worst meeting of my professional life. I felt uncomfortably hot. My heart was pounding, my palms were damp and there was a growing warmth rushing from my neck to the top of my head. Thoughts were zooming through my head and I had no idea what I was going to say.
I had just quit my job at Microsoft to pursue my dream of entrepreneurship. I was inspired after reading so many stories of people who had created a dream lifestyle by starting a (deceptively easy-looking) freelancing online business. Coaches and consultants making 6-figures a month. Stories of 4 hour workweeks, virtual assistants doing all the hard work and clients zooming in from all corners of the internet all with glorious freedom from a boss. I had stars in my eyes and the fantasy was just too enticing to pass up.
With over 16 years leading successful corporate marketing initiatives, I was sure I would be on the fast track to a booming online business quickly.
But that day, sitting in my first business networking meeting, I wasn’t so sure. In fact, for a fleeting moment, I wanted my predictable job title, paycheck, benefits and comfortable work environment back.
Because in that moment I realized how unprepared and alone I was. I had created a me-too business… and I didn’t know how to talk about what made me unique, different or compelling. I felt drab, boring and forgettable.
My ideal client was anyone who would hire me because I hadn’t worked with enough people to know who my ideal clients actually were. And I had no confidence that I was worth the investment of someone hiring me. This tidal wave of self-doubt came sweeping over me just as I was about to open my mouth. My breath caught, my voice squeaked, words tumbled out in a wild jumble of disconnected jargon…
…it was mortifying.
As I walked out of that meeting, I swore I’d NEVER put myself in that situation again.
Have you noticed yourself in this story (or desperately want to avoid this situation)? Let me save you the hide-under-the-table embarrassment with three quick (and valuable) exercises you can do today:
Exercise 1: I’m Awesome
Entrepreneurship is as much about personal growth and confidence as it is about what you actually sell. And our egos can take a beating on a daily basis.
That’s why it’s important to remind yourself of all the things you are, actually, awesome at (and have a little fun while you’re at it).
What’s included on this list? Literally anything that you know you rock out.
Include things that have to do with your profession, sure, but also include things that make you HUMAN (and maybe even bring a smile to your face) like wine tasting and chick-flick binge watching.
I have a list of 50 items (at least) posted on my bulletin board that I can review at any time.
Set a timer for 10 minutes. Write a list and then read it out loud.
Reminding yourself of that is a huge confidence boost for when you move on to exercise 2…
Exercise 2: Why Me
OK, you’re awesome… now what?
Well, you need to take all that awesome-ness and craft a message about why you are THE BEST PERSON for your clients.
In other words: why should they choose you over all the other (highly qualified) people out there?
Now, at this point most entrepreneurs and small business owners get hung up. Jargon starts spewing forth. Language that is well suited for a PhD dissertation (that no one understands) creeps in. Eyes glaze over and potential clients drift away in a confused daze.
That’s what happened to me in the story above. I turned into a crash test dummy of entrepreneurship… and ran right into the brick wall wondering why should ANYONE choose me?
Save yourself a LOT of heartache and answer this question for yourself clearly. Then practice your answer out loud so you can confidently deliver it.
Exercise 3: Success Stories
Success stories are really the key to attracting new clients easily. They don’t have to be long, but they do need to engage and excite potential clients.
Develop stories that showcase what you do through the success of yourself or your clients.
A success story can start with success YOU have with YOUR OWN business at first.
Then add in client successes as they come rolling in.
Here’s an example:
Hi, my name is Michelle Evans. I’m a business coach and marketing strategist, which doesn’t mean much on title alone, right?
Well, instead of me telling you about everything I do let me give you a client success story: I have a client named Sue. Sue is a brilliant consultant, highly sought after in her field for her knowledge. She was speaking at events and in demand for writing and giving soundbites across her industry. Yeah Sue!
But here’s the challenge – Sue wasn’t able to turn that knowledge and credibility into a reliable stream of clients. She needed a strategy and approach to take all the work and knowledge she had to offer and turn it into business opportunities.
That’s what I helped Sue to do, and within just a few months Sue got more clients than she had in the previous year.
Want to talk about this for your business? Give me your business card and let’s set up a time to talk.
Now it’s your turn.
As we come to the end of this post, think about the three exercises above for your business and share your introduction/client success stories with me in my private Facebook community, Tame the Marketing Monster.
Want even more ideas to quickly attract new clients? I’ve put together a valuable (and free) resource to get you started. Grab your copy of Secret to Sold Out: 15 Strategies To Get New Clients Quickly at www.MichelleLEvans.com.
Michelle L Evans left her career in marketing strategy at Microsoft in 2012 after a successful 16-year corporate lifespan. Now Michelle shows experts, solopreneurs and entrepreneurshow to go from the best-kept secret to a sold-out success with a customized visibility strategy to attract the right kinds of clients to grow their business.