How to Navigate Client Interactions as an Introvert
So, you’re ready to start taking paying clients or maybe you’ve already booked some (yay!) but the idea of having to talk to strangers is already making you anxious. Does this sound like you? A lot, if not most, creatives have introverted personalities. Maybe it’s the whole right-brain dominance thing. But hey, I’m no neuroscientist so my guess is as good as yours. Either way, there’s a lot us out there! So, welcome friends here are a few tips to help get you out of your comfort bubble and into better client relationships and more referrals!
First things first – let me preface this whole article by saying that in my experience, you really do have to fake it ‘til you make it as an introvert. In order to succeed in our industry, you need to master your client experiences. It will feel awkward at first for sure, but it won’t take long for you to find what works and it will do a world of good for your business when your clients are all raving about you.
If you aren’t comfortable photographing people yet, practice with friends and family
Comfort plays a big factor in confidence. If you don’t have much experience with a human on the other side of your camera it can be a bit overwhelming! They’re looking to you for guidance and it’s up to you to make them feel comfortable in front of the camera. This will contribute to their overall satisfaction with the images you create as well as their experience with you! Joke around and laugh with them, don’t be afraid to try things that don’t work and don’t be silent behind the camera, even just a reassuring “that looks awesome” can really help to ease their nerves. Photograph as many people as you can, friends, siblings, siblings of friends – whoever! Just practice, practice, practice.
Get to know your clients before the session
So how do you make the jump from being okay hanging out and taking a few pictures of some friends to meeting up with a couple and providing them with your best work? Get to know them! Meet up for coffee for your consultation meeting and just chat. Ask them questions about themselves, how’d they meet? What do they like to do for fun? Tell them things about yourself too, maybe you have kids or pets (I’m not a parent so I apologize in advance to all the parents out there, I know how much people hate it when I compare my dogs to their children – but c’mon, they are weirdly similar.) Maybe you have some bizarre talent or maybe you took a year off after high school to do a tour of North American coin museums. Whatever it is that sets you apart from a crowd, share it with them!
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I always like to suggest that my couples turn their engagement session into a date night and grab a few drinks before their photos, and if they’re down for a third wheel I’ll join them! This is always another really fun and laidback opportunity to spend some more time with them. The better you get to know each other and the more you all feel like friends, the easier it will be for everyone to let loose and have a blast during your session or wedding day together.
The #1 rule for life also translates into our businesses – be yourself! Don’t brand your business as loud and outgoing if that’s just not who you are. Being true to yourself through your branding will help couples or clients find you that is a good match with not only your style but your personality too.
My 7th-grade teacher Mr. Fowler used to tell students about “The Mustard Rule” on the first day of school – be prepared! Cheesy puns aside though, being prepared will help you feel so much more confident as a business owner. But what on earth do I mean, be prepared for what you ask!? Well…everything!
– Create email templates to help you craft your emails to your clients and remind you to include all the important stuff.
– Anticipate your client’s needs and concerns and answer their questions before they can ask them.
– Have your gear ready two days before the session.
– Lay out the process for your client so they know exactly what to expect ahead of time.
Any little preparations you can find to help you feel more confident in your workflow will be really beneficial for your business in the long run.
Use it to your advantage
A lot of introverted people spend more time observing people than your typical extrovert does. Use this to your advantage and focus on capturing more of those amazing candid moments rather than trying to pose people. These images are full of so much more emotion and will bring a timeless quality to your work that families can enjoy for years to come.
I saved the hardest one for last! This is a tough one for most introverts, but if you know it’s a weakness for you personally make sure to make it a focus and a strength in your business. Your client’s experience with you relies on your ability to communicate and set expectations effectively.
– Be clear with them about your policies and your pricing.
– Provide them with a copy of the contract that clearly outlines the terms of your agreement.
– Respond promptly to emails or offer to give them a call and chat on the phone if they’d prefer but avoid texting – it’s too casual.
– Stay organized.
– Don’t shy away from communicating with your clients in fear of saying the “wrong thing”.
Overall, there’s no avoiding that there will be a few awkward bumps along the way as an introverted business owner. But, at the end of the day, you’re building a business doing something you love – what could be better than that?
I hope that you find all or some of these tips useful to you in your business, thanks for reading!