We All Start As Strangers

Strangers are usually seen as very scary or intimidating people and while in some cases it's true, lets relate this directly to your business. Everyday each of us pass a stranger, talk to a stranger and in-fact are seen as one ourselves. 

I was walking to the studio this morning and it came to my attention that on a daily basis I deal with strangers! Ten years ago the thought of a stranger scared me...I always worried what to say or how to say it and avoided any call numbers I didn't know. Today I connect with clients from all around the world, some in America, New Zealand and even Germany... so how on earth did I suddenly become so comfortable talking with people I don't know? I pushed myself....

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Early on in my Freelancing career, I noticed clients felt more comfortable hiring after they had directly connected with you... sounds creepy, but in business, it makes perfect sense. The first few months of working as a freelancer I missed out on great projects because I lacked the confidence to communicate and now that I reflect on the matter...it took a-lot of practice to get past.

Here are a few tips to breaking the ice with new clients or connections! Now some may be really left field for your circumstance but others will relate closely. 

  1.  Do a little homework. If you have a call scheduled or planned with a new connection, do a little research into their product, business or online presence. Familiarise yourself with their processes, business and location but never assume ones personality. Doing a little research will also build good rapport with your "stranger" and will demonstrate that you have shown interest and not been unorganised going in blind. 
  2. Introduce yourself clearly and leave no confusion as to who you are, where you are from and why you are reaching out. 
  3. Be honest and transparent from the start. When entering into a discussion always be honest and realistic to avoid putting yourself in the dangerous territory of over committing, stumbling, mumbling and even embarrassment. Keep it real! 
  4. Listen, Pause, Respond. Its easy to get nervous when talking with a stranger so take a breath, listen carefully and think before you speak (just don't let that thinking time turn into an awkward pause)
  5. Regardless of if you are meeting with a new connection via web chat or for coffee, make sure both yourself and surroundings are clean. Take a quick look around your office and make sure there is nothing in view that could be of distraction or embarrassment for both parties and the same applies to finding a coffee spot... make sure its clean, comfortable and quiet. 
  6. Practice Politeness. Regardless of if its written or verbal communication, you should practice polite speech.
  7. Write Stuff Down. I am going to keep this short and sweet...carry a pen an paper!
  8. Ask open ended questions