A few years ago, I was struggling to grow my business and suffering from burnout. I thought I needed to be manipulative with my marketing in order to be successful and it felt so at odd with my values I just couldn’t do it. I spent time learning manipulative marketing tactics and how to persuade potential clients into buying my services. Things like funnels and opt-ins. “Free” stuff in return for people giving you their details. False discounts by claiming the products you offered were worth more than they actually did….

But it never felt right. Whenever I reached the selling part in a share, it felt inauthentic and I dreaded  doing it.

I started researching how different coaches and consultants attracted clients without being salesy or pushy.

Working with authentic business coach George Kao, I earnt that  marketing did not have to be yucky. This cut a long story short, what I learnt was that I did not have to be manipulative to sell. It was a revelation and a relief, and it completely transformed the way I run my business.

This week I’m learning that reaching out to potential customers is just the same. I’m working with business coach Caroline Leon, and she is encouraging us to connect for connection’s sake. She calls it authentic outreach.

Caroline says 

Because the idea of “networking” is as old as time, plenty of people get that having good connections is good for business, but when connections come from a place of trying to get business rather than aiming to build genuine relationships, it can feel completely off to the recipient and can destroy or damage any chances of a relationship developing.

I feel the same energy of liberation, of breathing out, feeling that some heavy burden has been lifted that I felt when I learnt to be authentic in my marketing. And, as I did with the marketing, I’m realising that I’m doing that anyway, that I was already doing the connecting, I just did not know it counted as a good business practice.

We’ve all had these messages from people who had only contacting us under false pretence only to try and sell us services or products.  It does not feel good does it? For me on social media it’s an immediate strike if someone does this. I’m not interested in talking to them. If they cannot be bothered to know who I am, why should I give them my precious time and energy?

So how do you reach out to potential clients authentically?

The key is to turn the process on its head. Don’t reach people to try to get something out of them, or even with the end goal of trying to sell them services or products, reach out for reaching’s sake. To connect with fellow humans. To express gratitude. To be helpful. For the simple joy of it. 

In this short video, coach John P Morgan explains how to do this beautifully (using beautiful fairy lights!) : 

  • Having self-interest as part of your intention while connecting with human beings makes connecting more difficult. 
  • Your ability to connect with human beings is inversely proportional to your desire to acquire from them. 
  • When you are trying to ‘connect with potential clients’, you are inadvertently carrying a desire to acquire and thus making it difficult for yourself. 
  • You already know how to connect with people and you do it well when there is nothing you want from them. 

To practise connecting authentically, what can you do?

Make a list of people (say 20) to connect with. This list can contain the following kind of people:

  • Friends
  • Family members
  • Colleagues/former colleagues
  • Clients/students
  • Former clients/students
  • Audience members
  • Newsletter subscribers
  • Peers
  • Mentors/teachers
  • People you admire (yes, even famous people appreciate receiving gratitude for their work as very few people take the time to do so, and it’s always nice to feel that you make a difference)

Look at old lists of clients, friends, your audience, who comments on your posts on social media, how reads your newsletter, who reaches out.

When looking at the list, notice who lights you up and who you’d like to get in touch with (even if it’s been a long time).

tip: I write the list AND send the messages at the same time because it works better that way for me.

How do you reach out?

Be genuine. Write simple but authentic messages of connection. Mention that you thought about them and wondered how they were doing. Mention a memory or something that made you think about them, or something they did or shared that you feel grateful for. Don’t over complicate or over think it.

What do you use to reach out?

Email, social media, texts, voice notes, whatever, it doesn’t matter. The intention and the practice is more important than the method.

What might happen

When you start this process, you may notice that it feels unnatural and hard at first, like pushing water uphill. 

I’m quite new to it myself, but I’ve noticed that, very quickly beyond the inertia and discomfort, once I got going it started to have momentum. Not only does it became more natural and easy but it gives me a good fizzy feeling inside and a glow, to connect with people I appreciate and love. 

And as if by magic, several people I haven’t actually contacted are also reaching out. There is a saying that what you focus on expands, and being in that energy of giving and receiving is very helpful and beautiful.

Let me know what you think of this, and if you try, or have tried it, it I’d love to hear about your experience.

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