The successful Freelance solopreneur is a highly respected, usually well-liked, professional. He/she is regarded as uniquely qualified and able to consistently deliver results. For these reasons, the successful Freelancer is considered the go-to person by clients and colleagues. The successful Freelancer has Influence and that influence has been leveraged to build a lucrative client list. If one aspires to become a successful Freelance solopreneur, one must acquire Influence and apply it skillfully.
Robert Cialdini, PhD, Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University, president of the consulting firm Influence at Work and author of Influence (2001), is considered the leading social scientist in the field of influence. Dr. Cialdini, who himself possesses significant influence, has identified six elements of persuasion that help ordinary citizens to become influential:
!. Liking If people like you, either because they sense that you like them or because of things you have in common, they’re inclined to say yes to you and help you to advance your goals.
II. Reciprocity People tend to return favors. If you help people, they’ll help you (sometimes!). If you behave in a cooperative way, they are likely to respond in kind.
III. Social Proof People will do what they see others doing, especially if those people seem similar to them.
IV. Consistency People like to be consistent, or appear to be so.
V. Authority People defer to experts and those in positions of authority.
VI. Scarcity People value what is rare and not perceived as a commodity.
I thought about the elements of persuasion that Dr. Cialdini shared and wondered which are most applicable to the needs of Freelancers? My feeling is that Authority, Consistency, Liking and Social Proof are within our control to varying degrees and attainable.
Freelancers are hired guns and we must be perceived as experts. Blogging, writing a newsletter, case studies on our website, presenting webinars and working with prestige clients are some of the ways we demonstrate our Authority, our expertise, to colleagues and prospective clients. Our reputation, the brand, must telegraph that we Consistently resolve challenges, overcome obstacles and produce desired outcomes for our clients every time.
People do business with those that they know and Like and they do more business with those they Like and trust and the successful Freelancer is well-liked. Dr. Cialdini noted that we usually like people who we think like us, people with whom we have something in common and people who help us by doing favors. While remaining authentic and avoiding manipulative behavior, the Freelance solopreneur can create conditions that will make people like him/her, which is the essence of relationship and influence building.
On the most elementary level, the Freelancer should be pleasant and respectful, always ready to greet old friends and new with a smile and a handshake. When in conversation, listen and be interested in what others have to say, another way of letting people know you like and value them.
Find commonalities with those whom you expect to meet (or those whom you’d like to know better) by turning to social media. Read Facebook and LinkedIn profiles to find out where people went to school and what their interests are. Without divulging the source of your information, look for ways to casually drop these references into the conversation and take steps to strengthen the connection.
Should the opportunity arise, do favors large and small for colleagues and clients, always creating a sense that there exists a network of partners who are willing to help one another. You will increase the likelihood of ROI and set the stage for Reciprocity by characterizing your assistance as a two-way street. Those known to be able to dispense valuable favors always attain Influence.
Finally, clients are risk-averse. No one wants to make a mistake and allow either superiors or subordinates to see them lose face. They make decisions that favor the familiar, the “known quantity”, because it is the safe choice. The goal of Freelancers is to obtain that Social Proof, the ultimate endorsement, because it is the recipe for building a robust client list. To become successful Freelancers, we must persuade clients and colleagues that we are eligible and deserve the right to become the “known quantity” go-to expert because we have attained Influence and they look smart when they hire or recommend us.
Thanks for reading,