I make my living giving career advice to creative entrepreneurs and freelancers and if there’s ONE thing they want more than anything else, it’s to know how to promote themselves without being pushy.
A thriving business or career is built upon providing a valuable service to a community of people who have a genuine need for it. So, in order to connect with our niche or tribe, we need to: (1) dynamically and concisely articulate how our services meet their needs and (2) make it really easy for them to find us.
I’d like to share a concept that changed the way I approach business: good marketing is not about ‘pushing’ our services, but rather ‘pulling’ our ideal clients towards us. And the fastest way to do that is to shift your mindset from one of ‘selling’ to one of ‘serving’.
Here are a few suggestions of how your can put your new ‘service’ mindset into practice.
1) Stop ‘networking’ and start ‘connecting’
I understand why people hate networking. Random networking is kind of like going on a blind date. Sure, something awesome could come out of it, but most of the time you wish you’d stayed home with a good book!
So here are three tips to network more effectively:
Instead of networking, think of it as an opportunity to meet cool people. Let’s face it, you went out on your own to work on cool projects with cool clients, right? Connecting with potential clients, creative collaborators, resources and referral partners is an organic process that can happen at any place and at any time – you don’t need to go to an event. It could even happen in line at the supermarket (that’s how I found my amazing assistant)!
Go where all the cool people that you’d like to work/collaborate with hang out.
Be genuinely interested and interesting. No one wants to talk to someone who’s only interested in talking about themselves. Ditto for being a bore. Enthusiasm is really appealing and really contagious so apply it generously to your own endeavors, as well as other peoples.
Know whom you’d like to meet and what you’d like to share with them. A lot of people are reluctant to approach these people because they don’t know how to talk about what they do. Which brings me to number two.
2) Create a non-pitchy elevator pitch
In order to build relationships with people who will support and champion your services, you need to be able to describe what you do in a dynamic, concise way. You need an elevator pitch.
Your pitch should:
• Describe how your skill/service is unique
• Speak directly to your ideal client
• Address your ideal client’s struggles?
• Communicate the results they will get from working with you
Now, I want to say right now that once you’ve written your pitch you won’t recite it verbatim (that’s BAD networking etiquette). What you will do is hit the highlights that hopefully pique the other person’s interest.
3) Practice ‘authentic marketing’
There was a time where marketing was pretty low of my list of priorities (newsflash: it should be at the top of our list), so I’d like to tell you what cured me. Creating content that is helpful to others. Most of us fall into the trap of describing what we do, what services we offer and what our process is. Not only is this ineffective for getting new clients (remember: they’re not interested in process, only results), most of us feel terribly uncomfortable marketing this way. Once your marketing goes from self-serving to serving others it becomes more interesting and of more value to all involved. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t also promote your work or product. Just remember the 80/20 Rule. 80% conversation:20% promotion.
The tools you use to share your expertise will differ, depending upon your strengths and personality and the preference of your ideal clients. Perhaps you’ll create a fantastic design/lifestyle blog or maybe a YouTube video channel.
My primary tools are:
4) Connect with like-minded people
Build your list of contacts strategically and organically. Connect with potential clients/collaborators/joint venture partners and regularly share your helpful and relevant content. As soon as they have a new project, I promise you’ll be top of mind.
Besides being wildly effective, a service-based approach infuses your work and interactions with meaning and authenticity Now what’s pushy about that?
Successful entrepreneurs know that self-promotion is crucial to building a creative business. Justine Clay is a business coach for creative entrepreneurs who need help marketing themselves more effectively and growing their business.