As a coach who believes in this work, I have a coach of my own—Rich—who basically tells me the same things I tell my clients. In any profession, we’re always learning.
This week, Rich gave me an assignment that I sometimes give to my clients:
Identify your five most recent new clients and tell me in a few sentences how they came to hire you.
When I did the work, here’s what I came up with:
I do not see a clear pattern that I could replicate. Four of them were referrals, but two of those had also attended one or more of my workshops. The other one reached out to me on his own, and strangely, he was the supervisor of an attorney who had only worked with me for a short amount of time.
But when I mulled it over some more, what they all had in common is that I had spent a lot of time with each one and never once thought, “I must make this person a client.” In fact, in two of the five cases, I had at first decided not to offer my services and required them to do some preliminary work if they were serious about being coached. These two clients are now among my hardest-working, and when it came down to it, they were happy to pay my fee.
So, my coach had me write the above “Memo to Self”. Here’s what it means for me:
Let go of the idea that there’s a goal to create a client. (Be willing to walk away.) My colleague, Ari Galper, talks about determining the truth of whether or not you can help a prospective client. Maintain your innocence about it. Understand the prospect and his or her needs. Maybe you two are not a good fit! That’s okay.
Be wary of your desire to grow your business. I’ve written several times about your ‘need’ being the ugliest thing you can reveal to a client. But the craving to enroll a new client prevails even for people who already have more work than they can handle. When it creeps in, as it did this month during one of my interviews, it can ruin everything. Some of my best clients resulted from my ability to keep that craving at bay.
Some prospective clients need multiple interactions. Sometimes, enrolling a new client takes more than one conversation. My easiest enrollments have been people who have already known me for a while. They’ve been reading my newsletter and my books; they’ve heard me speak or attended one or more workshops. There’s great benefit to letting these people come your way slowly.
Slow down. I’m a great listener, and can ask compelling questions, when I truly have no agenda.
Post this memo somewhere as a reminder…or let me help you create one that’s exactly right for you. Keep learning, and keep REACHING…