The self-employment mindset: Component #4: Confidence

By Jeanne Yocum

This is part 4 in my series on the mindset you need to succeed as your own boss. Links to the first three posts are at the end of this article These ideas are also shared in my new book, The Self-Employment Survival Guide: Proven Strategies to Succeed as Your Own Boss.

Succeeding at being your own boss requires having confidence in several areas:

– You need to be confident that you have the skills and experience needed to serve the market you intend to serve. If you don’t display such confidence, it will be hard for you to even get in the door at many potential clients. Over the years, I’ve known a number of talented people who, for whatever reason, project a far-too-humble attitude toward their skills and experience. But hiding your light under a bushel basket is not the way to build a successful business. (Of course, neither is claiming to have skills or experience that you don’t actually possess; I’ve seen plenty of that as well.)

[amazon_link asins=’1538108712′ template=’ProductAd’ store=’succeeding0d-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’2f1257a1-68c4-11e8-8e58-a50a41a7c801′]- You must be confident that the specific solutions you’re recommending will meet a client’s needs. If you don’t show such confidence in the advice you’re providing, it will be difficult for your prospect or client to believe your ideas will work for them. This is especially true when you are trying to convince a client or prospect to try something that is new for them. Change is hard for many people, and you must project enough confidence to overcome the uncertainty and fear that clients often have about altering their normal ways of operating.

– Finally, you need to be confident when meeting new people in networking situations. Just as the mantra of real estate is location, location, location, the mantra of building for building a successful solopreneur career is networking, networking, networking. Yes, it is possible now to grow a business via an internet presence and never have to actually meet people face to face. But for most solopreneurs, networking via business association meetings, conferences and similar venues is the path to success and you need to become competent at it sooner rather than later.

How to build confidence

Projecting confidence can be very hard for some people, especially when they’re starting out on their solo career. It’s highly possible that generating new business was not part of the 9-to-5 job you’re leaving behind. You may never have had to get up in front of a room and give a presentation about the work you’re proposing to do for a prospective client. You may never have had to go to networking meetings and introduce yourself to total strangers. But you need to learn how to do these things confidently if you’re going to succeed over the long haul.

The best thing I ever did for myself in this regard was to take a Dale Carnegie course in public speaking. It was a big investment for me to make at the time, but it has paid off in so many ways over the years. Toastmasters is another great program that will help you get comfortable so you can project the confidence you need in order to succeed.

I’m not a natural networker by any stretch of the imagination, but over the years I learned several tactics that helped me make sure going to networking meetings paid off in terms of new contacts:

– First, research local business organizations and find one that best fits your style and your objectives. I once joined a large regional chamber of commerce and found that they focused heavily on larger businesses and ignored the needs of their solopreneurs members. We were shunted off to the side at tables of our own for breakfast meetings, for instance, while people from the companies paying the big dues were sitting at their own tables that were front and center. Zero effort was made to enable us to actually meet the people we wanted to meet; in fact, it seemed more like interaction with the larger businesses (i.e, our prospective clients) was discouraged.

Fortunately, this is not true of all such groups and after trying out a number of organizations, I found several over the years where everyone was friendly and welcoming to self-employed individuals. Finding the right group can be time consuming, but the end result will be worth it once you find an organization where you feel at home.

[amazon_link asins=’B00F9FKZLU’ template=’ProductAd’ store=’succeeding0d-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’3b76cc6a-68c4-11e8-a21f-4386a55c348d’]- Set a goal for each meeting you attend. I know all to well that it’s possible to spend a couple of hours at a networking meeting and not meet anyone new. Yes, it’s more comfortable to talk with the people you already know, and, certainly, firming up your relationships with them and reminding them about your services is helpful. But you’re also there to expand your network so don’t shy away from that.

To help assure that I meet new people each time I attend a networking meeting, I put three business cards in a pocket and vow not to leave until I’ve handed those out to new folks. Having a specific goal like this keeps you focused on the job at hand. Your goal for any specific meeting might be different. Perhaps there is a specific person attending that you want to meet, for example. That’s fine, too. Just make sure you have a goal of some sort in mind before you walk in the room.

– Take on an organizational role to increase your comfort level. I’ve found that becoming a volunteer of a networking group greatly increases my level of comfort. For example, I once served on the membership committee of the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce, which gave me the perfect excuse to walk up and say hello to absolutely anybody at a networking meeting. I’d say something like the following: “Hi, I’m Jeanne Yocum and I’m a member of the chamber’s membership committee. We want to make sure you’re having a successful evening. How is your networking going?” Having a specific role with the organization makes the usual meeting and greeting much more comfortable and easy. It also has the added bonuses of helping you develop good relationships with other committee members or volunteers.

Like me, you may not start out your solopreneur career with much experience in presenting yourself in settings where you’re seeking new business. But using the tips above, you can build your presentation and networking skills and along with that will come the confidence you need to succeed as your own boss. Good luck!

Here are links to the first three parts of this series on the self-employment mindset:

The self-employment mindset: Component #1: Persistence 

The self-employment mindset: Component #2: Decisiveness

The self-employment mindset: Component #3: Risk tolerance


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