Be More Likeable, Get More Clients

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I got an email out of the blue this past Monday.

Well, not really “out of the blue” … it was from somebody I know. But it was unexpected, nonetheless.

It came from Abigail (not her real name), a small business owner and woman I’ve known for at least ten years. Maybe closer to 15.

We live in the same town but rarely bump into each other. And yet our paths intersect here and there.

I’ve had coffee with her mom. She hired my daughter as an intern one summer. Our sons play lacrosse.

And so a couple of weeks ago, we got together for coffee at the local Starbucks. No agenda, and no explicit purpose other than to shoot the breeze for an hour.

Among other things, she mentioned that her company was in the midst of rebranding.

Among other things, I mentioned that as part of the range of “marketing stuff” I do for clients, writing is my primary skill and passion.

And that was it. Have a great day; see you again soon.

coffee mug

Until Monday. That’s when she wrote this:

So…as I mentioned and in coincidence… we are working on our website and are seeking support on editorial copy. I am wondering if you would be interested in talking to us about joining our team for this endeavor? Let me know what you think.

What do I think? I think absolutely.

Abigail is more or less the embodiment of my perfect client: Smart, successful, powerful, female, relationship-oriented, knows her small business inside and out, and is in it for more than just the money.

So here’s a few things I’d like you to notice…

  • I wasn’t trying to get hired on the day we met. I was just looking for a cup of coffee and some conversation. But, because we connected on a personal level and have stayed in touch over time, I came to mind when her web site project came up.Coincidence? Sure, she even said so in her email. But coincidence and dumb luck are not the same thing. If you stay in touch with enough people regularly, some of them are going to refer or hire you.
  • Likeability matters way more than most of us are willing to admit. People hire people they know and like (or who are referred to them by people they know and like).Am I the best writer on Planet Earth? Well, as it turns out, I am. But she doesn’t actually know that (yet). Getting hired as a professional is not a meritocracy. Yes, you have to be good. But, as important, you have to be somebody other people want to be around.
  • I don’t need to be particularly skilled at selling. Look again at the email she wrote: “I’m wondering if you would be interested in talking to us…?” At this point, as long as we agree on the specifics of the project, it will happen. We already like and need each other.Compare that to cold calling somebody who’s never heard of you and probably doesn’t even want what you’re selling. It’s not even in the same solar system as the conversation I’m having with Abigail.

My Marketing Nuts And Bolts course kicks off on April 4th. So I’ve been spending a lot of time reviewing the materials and getting ready for the class.

Yesterday, while digging through my notes (I can’t get enough of my own wisdom), I was reminded of the central theme – the idea from which everything in the course springs:

“Stay in front of the people you know, over and over again, in a way that positions you as a likeable expert.”

It’s very easy to do. Which, I suppose, is also why it’s very easy not to bother with.

But I can promise you this. If you can create a marketing approach centered around expert positioning, likeability and relationship building, you’ll get more than your fair share of emails that begin with, “I’m wondering if you’d be interested in talking to us…?”

Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you ever had coffee with Abigail’s mom? Explain.
  1. Are you likeable?
  1. What could you do to be even more likeable in the way you market?

Share your comments below!

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3 thoughts on “Be More Likeable, Get More Clients

  1. Jeff Samoray

    Here’s an idea I’ve employed that I think boosts “likeability.”

    After successfully completing a project for a new client (and once a year for established clients) I send a “thank you” card in which I express thanks for using my services and that I look forward to helping with future projects. I’d like to think connecting in this manner, via old-fashioned snail mail, makes me stand out from my competitors.


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