The successful solopreneur is a highly respected and usually well-liked professional. She is regarded as uniquely qualified and able to consistently deliver the best results. For these reasons, the successful solopreneur is considered the go-to person by clients and colleagues. This individual has Influence and that influence has been leveraged to build a lucrative client list. If one aspires to become a successful solopreneur, it will be necessary to acquire Influence and apply that resource 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:
I. 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 behave in a cooperative way, people will likely 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 circumstances of solopreneurs? My feeling is that Authority, Consistency, Liking and Social Proof are within our control to varying degrees and therefore, attainable.
Solopreneurs are hired guns and we must be perceived as experts. Blogging, writing a newsletter, including case studies on our website, presenting webinars and working with prestige clients are some of the ways that we might demonstrate our Authority, or expertise, to colleagues and prospective clients. Our reputation, i.e. brand, must telegraph that we Consistently resolve challenges, overcome obstacles and produce desired outcomes for our clients.
People do business with those they know and Like and they do more business with those they Like and trust and so the successful solopreneur is well-liked. Dr. Cialdini noted that we usually like people who think as we do and with whom we have something in common. While remaining authentic and avoiding manipulative behavior, a 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, a solopreneur should be pleasant and respectful, always ready to greet old friends and new with a smile and a handshake. When in conversation, conveying interest in what others have to say will communicate to friends and colleagues that you value them.
It will be helpful to find commonalities with those whom you’d like to know better and social media can help. Read Facebook and LinkedIn profiles to find out where people have gone to school and what their interests are. Without divulging the source of your information, look for ways to casually drop these references into conversations and take steps to strengthen connections.
Should the opportunity arise, do favors large and small for colleagues and clients and create the sense that there exists a network of partners who are willing to help one another.You can in this way 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 obtain 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 solopreneurs is to acquire Social Proof, the ultimate endorsement, because it is the recipe for building a robust client list. To become successful solopreneurs, we must persuade clients and colleagues that we deserve the right to become the “known quantity”go-to expert because we have attained Influence and we make those who hire or recommend us look smart.
Thanks for reading,
Kim L. Clark is a strategy and marketing consultant who works with for-profit and not-for-profit organization leaders who must achieve business goals. Kim is the founder and principal of the consulting firm Polished Professionals Boston and she teaches business plan writing to aspiring entrepreneurs. Learn how Kim’s expertise can benefit your organization when you visit polishedprofessionalsboston.com.
photo courtesy of WOCinTech Chat [FLICKR]