Not wholly unlike presidential candidates, solopreneurs undergo a degree of scrutiny before being selected as providers of choice. Clients do research, and they put a good deal of thought into whom they choose for professional services. Although you most likely don’t run up against negative ads and spin doctoring like candidates in an election, you are judged according to comparable categories of performance and perception.
Keep these in mind as you strive to put your best foot forward and win the favor of prospective clients:
Your past record
It’s far easier to garner new business when you’ve got a body of work available for review that demonstrates your skills and expertise. A portfolio can absolutely tip the needle toward you versus someone who appears comparatively green in your industry. And by making your portfolio easily accessible online via your website, Facebook page, Pinterest, a Commonfig multi-media profile, or other web venue, you’ll gain the advantage of making an impression quickly. If you’re a new solopreneur with not a whole lot of experience or samples to share, consider practicing your craft on a pro bono basis to build up your repertoire of examples.
Sometimes prospects will base their buying decisions on knowing that others have something good to say about your work and your work ethic. When clients are happy with your services and their experience in working with you, ask them for brief endorsements. One easy way to accomplish gathering testimonials is via LinkedIn’s Recommendations feature. It gives your professional connections a convenient way to share their experience with you, plus it gives you a record of referral that you can copy and paste (with permission from the author of the recommendation) on your website and other marketing communications. If you’ve got it, flaunt it. Nothing says credibility more than happy clients who talk up your service.
While your portfolio and testimonials establish that you do what you’ve done well, you’ll also be judged by what you potentially can do for prospects. Sometimes you’ll run across opportunities to work on projects with very unique requirements. How well do your online points of presence and print marketing materials project the skills and expertise that show your potential to do more? Although you might have less (or no) experience with a particular type of endeavor, that doesn’t mean you’re not the right professional services provider for the job. When writing about your credentials, don’t miss out on highlighting the talents and skills sets that are transferable to projects beyond those that you already have in your repository of experience.
Ultimately, people do business with people and brands they believe they can trust. As a solopreneur, you make promises to prospects when you propose services to them. Your approach, your tone, your listening skills, and your responsiveness to questions will all influence whether a prospect chooses you or your competitor. Not only do your credentials, reputation and past experience play important roles in securing clients, so does instilling confidence that you’re going to follow through on what you say you’re going to do for them. Always be realistic and rational…and NEVER overpromise on what you can deliver.
As solopreneurs, there’s no escaping our constant state of “campaign mode,” but fortunately that doesn’t mean we have to resort to hosting extravagant events and slamming our competition. By focusing on what we do best, highlighting recommendations of our services, effectively projecting our potential and by following through on what we propose to do for clients, we stand a very good chance of winning the vote.
Your turn! Any other parallels between being a solopreneur and the presidential campaign in progress?
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