Does everyone you come in contact with in the course of your work on behalf of clients know that you are running a business (and might be able to help them or someone they know as well)?
If the answer is no, that’s a problem.
It doesn’t help to promote your business by allowing clients to view you as their personal assistant and introduce you as such to others.
When you call yourself an assistant, clients don’t tend to introduce you as an independent business owner. They will say things like “This is my assistant, Carolyn” without any further reference to your business.
This doesn’t make clear that you are in business and providing a service independent of that client.
Those you are introduced to may never “get” that because when they hear “assistant,” they automatically assume you’re simply part of that client’s business.
It misses an opportunity for possible new business connections.
It doesn’t do you any good to have clients who aren’t helping you in your business (i.e., making proper business introductions and actively promoting and referring you) as much as you are helping them in theirs.
And this isn’t about “bad” clients.
Clients only do what we allow them to. Most will happily comply with our standards if we only insist upon them and tell them what they are.
So, you want to examine your business practices and standards:
- Always set proper expectations and use terminology that sets and promotes those expectations and proper understandings.
- That means, never call yourself an assistant and don’t allow clients to call you “their assistant.” As a business owner, you are never anyone’s assistant–legally and practically speaking.
- Always use your own business email address so that anyone you are in contact with always knows they are dealing with an independent business and can contact you directly if they should need administrative support themselves (or know of someone who does). Your email address on your own domain with a proper business signature with active link to your website is one of the ways to always be marketing and promoting your business.
- Tell clients exactly how to introduce you to others. For example: This is my fabulous Administrative Consultant, [YOUR NAME]. She runs [YOUR BUSINESS NAME] providing administrative support and expertise to business owners like us. I wouldn’t have a business without her support and guidance.
There are several things you can do, right now, to reset expectations and understandings and have clients help you in your efforts to get new business:
- Put together a formal letter or email to all your current clients letting them know how to introduce you. It could start out something like this: Your recommendations, referrals and introductions are an important way for me to connect with new clients. And then give them the script (see my example above) you’d like them to use to introduce you with to others.
- Repurpose that email/letter into your next blog post and/or ezine article that goes out to your mailing list. Be sure you share it on your social networks.
- Add a section for this topic in your Client Guide that informs clients exactly what to call you, how to refer to you and how to introduce you to others.
- Include this topic in your new client orientations.
- While you’re at all this, tell friends and family members how to refer your business as well. For example: This is my [RELATIONSHIP], [YOUR NAME]. She runs a business called [YOUR BUSINESS NAME] that provides administrative support and expertise to [YOUR TARGET MARKET]. If you know of someone who could use her support, tell them to check out her amazing website!
Remember, you are not the “hired help.”
You’re running a business, and if you want to stick around for years to come, able to continue supporting the clients you love, promoting your business and keeping your roster full are vital to succeeding in that intention.
As always, I love hearing from you so let me know in the comments if this struck a chord with you. All my best!