Are Your Communication Skills Scaring Away Design Clients?When it comes to running a graphic design business, It's not just your creativity or your design skills that determine if you succeed or not. Your communications skills play a major role in the outcome of your business. Communications skills that are required when dealing with potential design clients.
The fact is, without good communications skills, you'll have a hard time finding and retaining graphic design clients.
I recently read a blog post by Felipe Mandujano titled Finding clients may not be your biggest problem. In it Felipe tells us how, by looking closely at himself, he was able to discover the flaws in his communication skills and address them over time. Felipe's article gave me the inspiration for the podcast episode. Please listen to the episode as I dive much deeper into the subject than I do in this post.
Why is it that finding new design clients comes easier to some designer than others?
Let me ask you a question. Do you consider yourself an Introvert or and Extrovert?
If you said Introvert, you're not alone. Did you know that the majority of graphic designers are introverts? Remember, being an introvert doesn't necessarily mean that you're shy, just that you're more comfortable being along. Because of that desire to be alone, you may not have developed the communication skills necessary to really succeed as a home based graphic designer. That's what I discuss in this podcast episode.
If you replied Extrovert to the above question I encourage you I stick around and listen to the podcast anyway. You may gain some insight that will help you in your business as well.
Being an introvert.
One of the issues with being an introvert is that you don't like to venture too far out of your comfort zone. You can easily immerse yourself at your computer, your sketchpad or easel. but when it comes to dealing with clients you're not that comfortable.
That's why you see many design teams, where one team member designs while the other has the communication skills to deal with the clients. Each member has their own skill sets and works within them.
But not ever designer has the benefit of working with a business partner who can handle the clients for them. Most home based graphic designers are like me, running the business all alone.
And that is where the problem lies if you're an introvert. If you have trouble expressing yourself and communicating with clients it can come across as a lack of confidence. If a client ask you a question and you hesitate or hum and haw about the answer, they may think you don't know what you're doing and decide to look elsewhere for answers.
It doesn't matter how good a designer you are. Clients don't want to deal with someone who appears to lacks self confidence and doesn't have the communication skills to talk to them.
If you ever feel this way yourself I have some good news for you. You can overcome this and develop the communication skills necessary to succeed. It does require you to step out of your comfort zone but it is doable.
Here's some homework to improve your communication skills.
I want you to play a little game. The next time you find yourself at a checkout counter, I want you to say hi to the cashier before they say it to you. That's all there is to it. Beat them to the greeting. Cashiers have been trained to greet each customer they see so you know as you approach them that a “hello” is coming. So why not initiate it yourself? Believe it or not, but taking the leap and saying “hi” first will boost your confidence the more you do it.
If you want to take this game to the next level continue the conversation with what comes naturally after the greeting. Ask the cashier about their day before they ask you. It's an insignificant conversation but doing this over and over will boost your communication skills.
For an even bigger challenge, say hi to people in line with you, or in the elevator with you. Anytime you find yourself next to someone with a few seconds to spare say hi to them instead of just standing there in silence. You don't even have to go beyond the greeting and converse with them. The process of greeting someone is a great way to over come the fear and self doubt when dealing with strangers. And the more you do this, the more comfortable you'll be the next time you talk to a potential client.
Other things you can try.
Participate in design groups like the ones on Facebook or Linkedin. Talking with other designers online may be more comfortable for you and will help build your communication skills.
Find yourself a colleague or mentor you can talk to. Someone you can share your fears and insecurities with. Talking about them will go a long way in overcoming them. Old design school classmates make great sounding boards for this.
Read books to develop your communication skills. It may sound funny that reading will help you better talk to people but the authors of these books know what they're teaching. Put their works to the test and see what happens. Keep an eye out on my blog post as I'll be releasing a list of non-design books for graphic designers very soon.
Remember, when clients are looking for a designer they are looking for more than just creative design skills. They are looking for someone to create a relationship with. Someone they can have confidence in and someone they can trust to understand them and get the job done.
If you work on and develop good communication skills you'll be much closer to running a successive design business.
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Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at email@example.com