Shortly after moving to San Diego and starting my web design business in 2002, I went to meet with my first prospect. It was a referral from a customer from the business I had worked with in my past job. She had liked working with me enough that she was willing to refer me to a friend even though I was new to web design.
I had bought a web design franchise, so I had lots of marketing materials to share for that initial meeting. The franchise training had convinced us of how valuable our offering was. So, I shared how I could help and created a proposal based on the needs we had outlined.
After sending a proposal for an $8,000 e-commerce website, I heard nothing... crickets. When I think back upon that first meeting, it really makes me cringe. It was not because it was unsuccessful, it was how I chose to present my business. I did everything in my power to make it seem bigger and more established than it was. What a mistake...
Clearly, I did not develop a connection with that first prospect. There are a lots of reasons that could have caused that, but I am willing to go out on a limb and say that there was a lack of authenticity. I was trying to be something I was not, and justify a price tag that was unrealistic given my level of experience.
With 15 more years of experience, and now feeling successful, it is easy to see what was missing. At the time, I was much more interested in posturing than being authentic. So much of what we experience is posturing that we cling to anyone who is authentic.
My oldest son is not a follower. When he was two, we tried to get him to “do what daddy is doing” or follow the leader. He was not having it. To this day, he moves to the beat of a different drummer. The interesting thing is that he has a lot of friends and has been a leader since going to preschool.
Why is that? Even children crave authenticity. They know it when they see it, and want to be part of it. That is why I have endeavored to be more authentic in all of my relationships. There is nothing that endears me to a prospect more than telling them I can not help them. They realize I am being authentic.
However, the challenge to be authentic is a real one. There is a program still running in my brain that wants me to be accepted by everyone. It is hard to accept that not everyone is a prospective client or that it is OK for someone to not like me.
How are you choosing to be authentic, rather than wanting to be liked by everyone, or at least your tribe?
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