Dr. Freelance, I’m relatively new to freelancing–I’ve been at it just over a year. I love it once I have an assignment, but I still sort of freak out in a first client meeting. I’m confident in my abilities as a writer and editor, but I’m not sure I’m coming across as professionally as I should. (Actually, I’m sure I’m not.) What can I do to get rid of the new-client jitters?–Sweaty Palms Springs
SPS, I think we all like the concept of having a new client meeting. We’re daydreaming about the interesting projects, future referrals, and, of course, the dollar signs…but sometimes, we load it up psychologically so that we’re too focused on “not blowing it.” (Especially in a lousy economy or when you’re just starting out.)
I’d suggest a couple of steps that you can take to keep the new-client jitters at bay:
- Start doing a better job of preparing yourself. Learn the client’s web site inside and out, read any of their printed materials that you can get your hands on, and have a few specific items that you can talk about in some detail.
- Mentally, turn your situation around so that you’re interviewing the client rather than being interviewed for a job. This is where superior preparation pays off–being armed with more questions and insights than you need.
- Along the same lines, borrow a technique that entrepreneur coach Michelle Barry Franco at the Brazen Soul calls “The You Interview.” You may feel silly talking to yourself, but if you brainstorm a bunch of questions you might get asked, and then record yourself (audio or video) answering them, it will certainly smooth out your presentation.
- Finally, as an investment in your long-term development, join a local Toastmasters group. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes in your confidence when you can practice your skills and receive constructive tips in a supportive atmosphere.
No sweat, no new-client jitters, right?!