There are all kinds of clients in this world, more than plenty to go around.
As an industry, we have only begun to scratch the surface of all the people and industries/fields/professions we can be helping, and will be helping eventually.
There are also way more good people — and clients — in the world than there are rotten eggs.
I clarify that lest anyone who hasn’t yet developed their world sense about this industry be discouraged by my vent yesterday.
There is still all kinds of potential and opportunity and wonderfulness out there for you and everyone.
The biggest problem we face as an industry is not bad eggs, it’s learning how to market ourselves, in the right way, with the right focus, to the right people.
Our poor marketing, both individually and by the industry at-large, is part of the reason we are attracting so many of these bad eggs in the first place.
Fortunuately, that’s a problem that can be easily solved with the right marketing training and education. In fact, I wrote the most straight-forward, step-by-step system to do just that.
When I get my vent on, I say what I say for the colleagues who don’t feel they can say it themselves.
I keep it real and say what many wish they could, and would say, if they felt it wouldn’t hurt their business.
Sometimes, you just gotta tell it like it is, get it out in the open and out of your system, without all the maudlin woo-woo crap and without stuffing your feelings and apologizing for being a human being.
I say what I say, the way I say it, because I’m in a position to do so.
However, I wouldn’t ever advise you to follow suit.
There is no place for ranting about clients in your dialogue (your blog, your networking, etc.) as you build your business.
These rants are a conversation between me and you (and me to those particular clients) and our own industry. It’s not a conversation you should be having with your clients or prospects or anywhere within earshot of them.
All that will do is alienate good clients along with the bad. It’s a turn-off; they won’t know the difference and will think you’ll be difficult to work with.
As I’ve advised more than one of my members on several occasions: Unless you are an industry leader, have already built your practice and aren’t looking for clients, don’t be an evangelist for the industry. That’s not your job.
Your job is to be an evangelist for your business, your target market and your would-be ideal clients.
That said, there really are two essential groups of clients.
There are clients who get it, often easily, sometimes with just a tad more education and focusing them on the right things, and who do value our support and can afford some level of it or another, as well as prospective clients who get it, want it, honor it, but might not yet be in a position to have it for whatever reason.
These are people who deserve your every graciousness, regardless of whether you end up working together now or later or ever.
If you’ve purchased any of my administrative support business success store products and learning guides, you know that I’ve long advocated that people in our industry always focus and place their greatest attention and efforts on their primary offering — ongoing administrative support — while also creating one-time stand-alone services and DIY info products for those clients you can’t work with directly or who can’t yet afford your premium one-on-one ongoing support.
As I explain in my consultation training guide, Breaking the Ice:
Sometimes the client isn’t a fit for you. Sometimes you’re not a fit for the client. Regardless of the outcome, every consultation is an opportunity for learning and growth… even if you don’t end up working with a client, you can still make a new friend. Remember that it’s not all about the end goal. Investing in relationships, rather than outcomes, will always lead you down the path of happiness and success.
So that’s the first kind of client.
Then there are the sharks and slimeballs…
These are the people who are simply out to take advantage, of anyone and anything.
These aren’t people you can have any relationship with because they don’t value other people, much less you or the work.
They don’t get it and no amount of education will ever get through to them.
They aren’t out to be educated; they’re out for Numero Uno. They’re out to get what they want while giving nothing or as little as possible in return.
They don’t care who ends up with the short end of the stick as long as it’s someone else. For them, it’s always about them “winning,” benefiting, getting one over at someone else’s expense, not partnership and collaboration and mutually beneficial business.
These are not the people who are deserving of any of your extra time or kindness beyond your normal professionalism. You don’t have to do anything, if you don’t feel like it, to help them any further than that.
These aren’t people out to refer you because you’ve been nice and gracious and kind. The only referrals you’ll get from sharks are more of the same: “Hey, guys… there’s a live one over here. She’ll give you the moon and barely charge you the cost of a month of lattes for it all.”
With referrals like that, who needs hot pokers to the eye.
Don’t be held hostage to this notion that literally everyone is a potential referral source so you’d better be exceedingly nice and overzealously kind to everyone if it kills you.
This ultimately also makes you a dishonest, inauthentic phony.
Discern the difference. There are some people it’s just not worth dealing with, and there is more to life than business. Live it on your own terms and stop apologizing and second-guessing yourself.
No one can tell you precisely how to spot a shark. I would tell you to not preoccupy one second of your time trying to spot them. It’s the completely wrong focus.
However, should you ever sense that you are dealing with a shark (and not someone who is merely naive, innocently misinformed or unrealistic), this is my advice to you:
Always be unfailingly professional and polite. There’s no reason not to be.
Beyond that, however, you have no obligation to extend them any further help or kindness, nor play any part of foisting them upon some other poor, unsuspecting colleague.
You don’t have to wish them any ill will or anything like that. But you do have the option of simply thanking them for their time, walking away, and doing nothing more, giving nothing more, if that is what you see fit to do.
There are, and will always be, a million other more ideal, deserving, giving clients out there to more productively focus your time, energy and kindnesses on.
When you focus on the bad eggs, you deprive the good ones of your gifts.