Building a consulting, coaching, or other business as an expert problem solver can be
isolating, frustrating, and depressing.
It feels like a never-ending process of trying to get noticed, inspire those who notice you to learn more, and then invite them to take the next step to work with you.
All of those things are very challenging for 4 big reasons.
- Getting attention is a challenge because there are so many distractions
- You have to figure out where those you want to reach are and where they’re most open to your message
- While you’re trying to educate and inspire them they’re also dealing with a lot of other issues that may or may not be more important than the problem you solve.
- People will choose to work with people who they believe are experts. One of the things that impacts our perception of someone else as an expert is we see them more and hear more about them then we do others. This is part of building a brand for yourself and your business.
You can’t change that.
But what you can do is embrace 5 actions that will have a big impact on growing your business and attracting more potential clients and opportunities…
- Get crystal clear on your message including the problem you solve, the impact of that problem, and the outcome you deliver. Best selling author Mike Michalowicz who wrote Toiletpaper Entrepreneur, the Pumpkin Plan, Profit First, and Surge does this in the form of what he calls a Rally Cry. (Yes, I know that’s grammatically incorrect but it’s what HE calls it.) This is like a cross between a mission and a tagline. His cry is to eradicate entrepreneurial poverty. When you see your work as the mission it really is it can help you stay focused and inspired.
- Narrow your focus. As counter-intuitive as it is, narrowing your focus is a great way to make it easier to get noticed because it’s like you gave yourself permission to be the expert. It’s easier to can be seen as the go-to person to the specific audience that has that specific problem. It gives you permission to ignore things that aren’t in that focus. I call this “a slice of a slice”. The more crowded the market the more you have to specialize. There’s one specific audience you want to talk to. They’re the ones who will recognize you as the expert you are because they relate to your background and achievements. They recognize and value your knowledege, skills, abilities, and experience.
- Put yourself out there in a big way and do it consistently. This is where the conflict between our needs and wants comes in. There’s a saying that you’ve got to fail forward fast. Those of us who are corporate escapees can have a real block around this and for those of us who are recovering perfectionists it’s even worse. In corporate life I’ll bet you saw people who made mistakes and got punished for them. They got chewed out. Their reputation was damaged. They may have gotten demoted. Some got fired. So it can be terrifying to put yourself out there in a big way because you’re emotionally scarred after seeing or experiencing that. Corporate life didn’t really set us up for success as independent professionals and entrepreneurs. So you’ve got to reconcile these emotions and it requires detaching from the outcome. It also requires developing the self-love and faith in yourself so your self-esteem isn’t at risk when you make an offer that no one takes you up on or you present a proposal and get told no.There’s any number of strategies you can apply and tactics you can accomplish to put yourself out there and attract clients. But they have to be done in a consistent manner. The fact that you put up a blog post and it didn’t get any traffic or that you put up a video and no one came to see it live doesn’t mean it’s not working. We cognitively know it will take more effort than that but we’re still disappointed when it doesn’t work. We want to be that overnight success that others seem to be. But in reality it takes effort. And it takes changing the effort you’re expending. You don’t need to take huge action but instead take small actions, moving forward, and you’ll make that next big leap.
- Find a supportive community and participate in it. Going out on your own is a courageous move. But at the same time it’s incredibly isolating since most of the people you know probably can’t relate to you now. But as a social animal, you do need to find supportive peers who can encourage you, cheer you, and gently push you while sharing their knowledge and feedback with you.
- Take action. There’s a great image I saw on Facebook designed by Sylvia Duckworth. It’s called the Iceberg Illusion. It shows the tip of the iceberg that’s above the water and that’s labeled “success” Then it shows the giant piece of the iceberg and all of the effort that’s going on below the surface that people don’t see. Do something. Everyday do small actions that move your toward your ultimate goal. And never give up.
So your reflection exercise for today is to think about what you’re doing to get known and be seen along with the emotions that’s bringing up and how you’re managing them.
And your action step is to make a list of all of the potential actions you could take to attract potential clients. Then identify what you’re not willing to do and what you are willing to do. Once you’ve got a handle on what you’re not willing to do you’ve got to ask yourself if you’re willing to accept that your movement may take more time than you want it to.
Look at your calendar and plan to do at least one thing to attract potential clients every day. You want to eventually aim for doing at least 5 things every day that will make you more visible and raise your Know-Like-Trust Quotient with those you’d like to connect with — whether they’re potential clients, potential referral partners, or potential collaboration partners.