Rainmaking: Selling yourself or How to toot your horn without blowing your own trumpet

“I’m really good at what I do,” says Paul, “but just I don’t seem to get a chance to show people.”
Paul’s experienced, is highly skilled, and is really good at what he does.
Getting enough work to earn a living as a freelancer means you need to learn how to sell yourself and what you do.
In fact I’d go further than that even if you are not a freelancer and in a team in a large company you need to be able to sell yourself.
If you don’t sell yourself internally then how do you think any of your colleagues will go about cross-selling your services?

Back to Paul…
“I don’t like to talk about myself,” he admits.
“It feels like bragging to say what a terrific job I do.
I don’t know how to express my capabilities to potential clients without sounding like a conceited know-it-all.”

Like Paul, lots of professional people hesitate to say how good they are.
They tell me that they feel immodest.
They fear that others will criticise them.
Many were taught from an early age and believe it’s unprofessional to boast.
Oh and by the way that is completely correct because if you TELL someone that you are great you’ll hit their critical filter.
So we have to find a way around the filter using different techniques and different perspectives.
There are ways you can let people know what you’re capable of and to not brag”

Tip 1. Use Your Clients’ Words

Testimonial quotes or endorsement letters from satisfied clients are your starting point.
These are really powerful tools that help communicate your value.
When clients describe what you did for them in their words, prospects gain a real understanding of your skills and talents.
This is very, very persuasive.
To solicit convincing testimonials from your clients, you will need to pick a time when they have expressed their appreciation for what you do.
Ask them, “How would you describe my work to someone who could benefit from it?”
Proudly display these testimonial quotes on your website.
Include them on a panel in your brochure or page in your marketing kit.
Sprinkle them throughout your marketing collateral.

Tip 2: Let Stories Show What You Can Do

When you need to speak with prospective clients about your capabilities, have two or three RELEVANT client success stories.
Again you see we are using someone else saying how great you are not you.
Instead of boasting about your qualifications, you are simply relating what happened.
Start by briefly describing your client’s situation when you started.
Then outline what you did for them.
Conclude with the client’s reaction and results.
Use your client’s words to tell the story instead of using your words.

Don’t say, “I wrote an easy-to-use manual early”.
Instead how about saying “My client was very pleased with how easy it was to use the manual, and he appreciated my completing it well before his deadline.”?

This change in perspective (seemingly where the comment is coming from) will also make you more comfortable.
Instead of relating your own perspective on what you did, you are merely sharing your client’s view of it.
This is much more convincing than speaking in the first person.
If you say it in the first person “I wrote an easy-to-use manual early”.
Your client will think “But you would say that you’re trying to sell it to me!!”.
You feel like you are bragging and everyone’s uncomfortable.

Tip 3 :Write-Up Case Studies

This storytelling approach can also help to get across the tangible results of an intangible process.
Consider a specialist struggling with how to communicate why clients hire him.
Sometimes the nature of what you do can be varied and difficult to describe in one sentence.
Demonstrate your abilities with case studies.
Write up five case studies about successful client engagements, each one focusing on a different problem.
In three to four paragraphs tell the story of your work with a client.
What was the original situation, what was the task in hand, what did you do, what were the results?
Always keep the names confidential unless you have express permission.
Try to get a quote from your client on the results you achieved together.

Tip 4: Try Thought Leadership

Try writing a white paper with your views on a particular topic to send to prospects by email or blog .
Share it with potential referral sources, or hand it out if you’ve when you give a talk.

Tip 5: But when you start out as a freelancer what if you can’t do any of the above?

You don’t have an impressive client list to display nor a stack of testimonials from satisfied clients.
How do you show evidence for that? As we’ve agreed you cannot just say it”.
Your profile / bio must include all the affiliations, awards, and accomplishments you have accumulated.
If you’ve worked on a project that was given an award, mention it.
Tell the story of the project as much as you can from the perspective of what results did it achieve.
Create a portfolio of any successful projects.
Put together a portfolio of work that you’ve done inside and outside companies.
Demonstrate your competence here instead of merely claiming it.

A final thought or two:

If you don’t let people know how you can help them, you will never get a chance to do so.
When you show people what you can do, you’re letting them know how your work can make their lives better or their jobs easier.
So, choose one of these ideas to toot your horn without blowing your own trumpet.
By the way there is a book you might like to read called “Brag!” by Peggy Klaus.

Start letting your light shine.

LIGHT by Virginia Satir
I can’t light your light
I can only light mine
So that I can illuminate
For you to see to light your own light.