Lately my business partner and I have been going to quite a few networking events – some that are more casual mixers, and others that are more formal. Through these events come opportunities to interact with good people.
In speaking with many of these people, I’ve noticed an underlying attitude that can be summed up in one sentence: “what can I get from this person?” or “how can this person benefit me?” If you hold this same kind of attitude, consciously or subconsciously, I’d like to offer you an alternative way of approaching and interacting with potential or current design clients.
Don’t ask “What can I get from this person?”
In business and networking situations, it’s easy to fall into this mindset – being solely outwardly focused on how the person you’re interacting with can benefit you. Can you work with them directly and get paid? Can they refer you to someone they know who could use your services?
Now, there’s nothing wrong with thinking these thoughts. It’s ok (it’s actually great!) to want to succeed, work with more people, and grow your circle of business connections. But if you think about where this attitude is coming from, you may find that it stems from an instinctive place of survival and self preservation, a place that tells you that you need to put food on the table and pay your bills at the end of the month. It almost never comes from a place that wants to build a community of people who help each other, where success is an essential and unavoidable byproduct.
It may surprise you that switching to a giving attitude may bring you more success than you ever imagined.
Ask “What can I offer?”
The switch is pretty simple. Instead of asking yourself what you can get from a person, ask yourself what you can offer them. When your focus is on giving for the sake of giving, most people develop a strong sense of gratitude and want to give to you too. And they may give you a lot more than what they pay you for your services.
Firstly, you may gain a friend – who doesn’t love friends? But they may also refer you loads of new business, promote you, and become your biggest raving fans. You never know what little “miracles” pop up when you genuinely care and give from your heart. And they will pop…it’s kind of inevitable.
5 Things you can offer your design clients
In the design profession, we can’t always (or pretty much ever) give tangible things or services away for free. After all, our work is our bread and butter, and we definitely need to get paid for what we do and for the worth and value that our work provides. This is why I’ve assembled a list of intangible things you can offer both future and present clients that may significantly improve your relationships, your income, and your mood.
Who doesn’t respond to a smile? Not only are smiles hard to resist, they’re also contagious. Smiling at people – not only smiling, but genuinely smiling – raises good vibrations all around and will be greatly appreciated by most. Not only that, by smiling you become a radiant source of light and happiness.
You may be raising one eyebrow at this one and thinking: “you want me to go around and start hugging my clients?! Are you out of your mind?” Hugging may not be a pleasure you can afford with all of your clients, but the right ones will appreciate it more than you know. Hugging reminds everyone involved that, at the end of the day, we’re all just human beings who need to feel loved and appreciated.
Patience and Understanding
Clients can sometimes have unreasonable demands, ask questions that you’ve already answered several times, or inadvertently step on your toes in one way or another. Being able to see things from their perspective will not only save you countless headaches, frustration, and anger, but will also allow you to be understanding of what they’re going through and where they’re coming from, and genuinely show them that understanding. When someone feels like they’re truly heard and understood, they’re much more likely to give the same courtesy, and the relationship will most likely go much more smoothly and naturally.
If you think about it, people aren’t always honest about how they feel, especially in business relationships. They usually try to put on some sort of façade, and come off a certain way so that they give off a good impression. But what if we said how we actually felt? It’s so much easier to be open and honest and who you really are – it may be scarier – but it does end up being easier than holding everything in. Now, I’m not saying you should run to your client and tell them you can’t stand them (if that’s the case) – but if there are some tensions in the relationship, they’re better addressed (respectfully!) than left unturned. On the other hand, if you absolutely love working with someone, and it makes your day when you talk to them, tell them that too! Imagine how good it would feel if someone told you that!
Sometimes the best thing you can offer your client is the opportunity to work with another designer. Occasionally people just don’t see eye to eye on things, and if this is the case with one of your clients or prospects, it would be best for both of you if you point them toward other designers who may be a better fit.
When you genuinely care about your clients and their success, it naturally comes off in your words and actions. When you really care, it’s easy to make your clients feel special – like they’re not just another source of income, but unique human beings with their own dreams, desires, needs, and aspirations.
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What is your main focus when speaking to potential or current clients? Which attitude works better for you in getting new business and keeping current clients (and yourself) happy? Are there any other things you give your clients that they really appreciate? I’d love to hear your thoughts!Written by Lou Levit
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