I wanted to focus today on another of the words to delete from your business vocabulary: resume.
Business owners don’t provide resumes (or curriculum vitae), employees do.
And you are not an employee.
Here’s how to understand this stuff:
When you were an employee, the cover letter is what got your resume read. The resume is what landed you an interview. And the goal of the interview was to cinch the job.
But once you are in business, you need to use business terminology to set proper expectations and understandings in clients. When you use employment terminology and apply employee-minded ways to business situations, you confuse and miseducate your prospective clients about the nature of the relationship. It actually causes the kind of problems you live to regret later down the road.
In the business world, your marketing and networking become your “cover letter.” This is what lets your target market and prospective clients get to know, like and trust you, and leads them to your business website to learn more about you and how you can help them.
As a business, your entire website and other marketing collateral become your “resume.” This is what should be working toward educating qualified and interested would-be clients about how you can help them and lead them towards engaging with you further in a consultation.
And the consultation is what is used to learn more about the client, determine if and how you can help and that there’s a mutual fit of needs and interests, and ultimately decide whether or not to work together.
Here’s the visual:
THAT WAS THEN (EMPLOYEE)
Cover Letter > Resume/References > Interview > Job
THIS IS NOW (BUSINESS OWNER & ADMINISTRATIVE CONSULTANT)
Marketing/Networking > Website/Testimonials > Consultation > New Client!
Just because someone asks you for a resume, doesn’t mean you provide one. If you continue to indulge requests for resumes and references from clients, you have no one but yourself to blame when you keep getting clients who don’t extend you professional respect nor view the relationship in its proper context–namely, one of B2B (business to business).
Instead, steer them toward your website. In fact, you could even say something like, “My website is my business resume. It will give you all the information you need about the work I do/my company does, how I help clients and what kind of clients benefit most from working with me. There’s even a page where you can learn more about me personally, and I’ve included some words from some of my happy clients.”
You have to understand that many clients have been completely miseducated about the nature of our profession, the relationship and the work we do thanks to incorrect (and, frankly, idiotic) articles about our industry. When most of them ask for a resume, it really is because they think we are a sort of offsite, telecommuting employee.
The term “Virtual Assistant’” doesn’t help things either–when you call yourself an assistant, that’s exactly what people think you are. Go figure.
Call yourself an Administrative Consultant instead and just see what a difference it makes in peoples’ demeanor and understandings. It’s like night and day!
Professional respect and understanding of the relationship are very important ingredients in shaping client perceptions, showing them how to treat you, and commanding professional fees. Insist on being treated as a professional. Use the right language to reinforce that expectation and understanding.
Ultimately, this is about providing superior service to clients. If you create misconceptions and confusion because you’ve used or allowed clients to continue using wrong terminology at the start of your business relationships, you make things more difficult for them in working with you because I guarantee you, it will cause problems and misunderstandings in the relationship in some form or fashion down the road.
Using correct terminology and engaging in business practices that subtly educate clients that you are a professional they hire for business, not employment, facilitates great working relationships.