Has this ever happened to you?

You’re at a networking event, and someone asks you a question about what you do. You feel like you should know the answer but you don’t have a clue. You put a fixed smile on your face as your brain whirrs round trying to think of something intelligent to say. Perhaps you should just come out with a lot of fancy words and jargon – that will impress them! Because if you admit that you don’t know what they’re talking about, it could make you look like a fool or a fraud.

Does this sound familiar?  When I first started out in business, owning up to not knowing something about the services I offered made me feel like a fraud who didn’t deserve to be running their own business. I believed that people wouldn’t trust me and they certainly wouldn’t want to hire my services.

It hit my perfectionist streak as well as my feeling of powerlessness in front of what I perceived as authority figures – people who had been in business longer than me.

And yet this striving to look perfect can harm your business for 3 reasons:

  1. No one is going to believe that you know everything about a subject.
  2. Believing that you are an expert can stop you from learning new things.
  3. You’re going to come unstuck when someone does ask you a question that you can’t answer and all you do is “um and aah” in response (or, in my case, try and make something up!).

But that striving for perfection can also come into your marketing. You believe that looking ultra-professional will make people want to hire your services. Whether it’s the blogs you write, the text on your website, how you come across on social media – you don’t want to put a foot wrong!

See my previous blog – How to Overcome the Fear of Creating Content that Expresses Who You Truly Are

In fact, telling people that you’re not an expert can help you with your marketing. By admitting we don’t know everything, we’re sharing our truth and showing prospective clients that we’re like them. We’re not perfect, we’re not the fount of all knowledge – and that honesty endears us to people. It makes us human and relatable. It also shows that we’re open to learning new ideas and new ways of doing things.

So how can you show prospective clients that you don’t know everything but still make them want to hire you?

Own up!

When someone asks you a question, be honest with them if you don’t know the answer. Say something like: “Thanks for the question. I don’t have a lot of experience of this subject, but I’ll look into it – it sounds interesting.” In fact, you can use questions like this as content for your blogs or email newsletters – how someone asked you a question you didn’t know, you found the answer and what you learnt from it.

This is a big win for you in two ways: You’re helping people who are looking for an answer to the same problem; and you’re building trust as you’re showing people you’re the real thing – not just someone who’s trying to “fake it til you make it”.

Go back to school

By portraying yourself as THE expert in your field, you’re setting yourself up for a fall. There’s always some wise guy who wants to prove it by expecting you to perform miracles because you are THE expert, right? And when you can’t deliver, you find their trust and your reputation going into freefall.

Don’t try to be an expert. Instead attend conferences, seminars and workshops so you can keep up to date with the latest trends in your industry. Share what you learn in the blogs, videos, and emails that you send out. Show people that you’re continually learning new things to help your clients – and this will attract them to your business.

Say no

It can be difficult to turn work down when you first start out, but you need to be specific about the service you offer and who you work with. That means not trying to be the Jack or Jill of all trades and instead say no to people who don’t fit your business.

Decide on what you do and who you do it for, and make that clear on your website and social media profiles. Perhaps you’re a coach who specialises in working with women who want to change careers. By providing a specialist service, you can focus on the work you enjoy doing. You’re also building trust with prospective clients because they can see that you work with people like them on the specific challenge(s) they are facing.

See my previous blog – Let Me Introduce You to Your Ideal Client

Build relationships

Show your prospective clients that you’re human – just like them! They will see you as someone who’s been through the kind of challenges they’re going through – and has come out the other side. This openness and honesty will connect you with your prospective clients on a deeper level.

Use your blogs, emails and videos to show people that you’ve screwed up a few times, you’ve had some ups and downs along the way of being an entrepreneur – and then show them how you got through it. This helps to build a deep connection and relationship with people that will make them want to work with you.

So don’t be an expert. Instead build a deeper relationship with the people who are looking to hire your services by sharing what you’re learning on your entrepreneur journey – the screw ups, successes and challenges – and how you’re using this learning to help your clients in a bigger way.

Want more tips? Click here to download a copy of our free Marketing Health Check to see if your marketing is raising the roof or falling flat on the floor.

About Valerie

Valerie helps solo entrepreneurs create a clear online marketing strategy so they can get in front of their ideal clients and attract them to their business.

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