You’ve worked hard to develop skills to help people build and grow their business. It makes sense that you’d want to share those skills with everyone you meet, especially potential clients. How else are people supposed to know the extent of what you’ve got to offer if you don’t showcase your talent?
The question is, how do you showcase your talent without being a show-off? How can you get people to look at your portfolio without being pushy? The solution lies in your approach, language, and timing. When and where you showcase your talent matters.
Don’t showcase your talent in your business documents
While it’s tempting to create fancy contracts and invoices to impress clients, that’s not generally a good idea. Unless you design invoices and contracts for a living, they don’t need to represent your design abilities.
If you’re a graphic designer, for instance, crafting your documents to display your talent can look unprofessional. To avoid looking like a show-off, skip fancy and opt for professional. If you’re tempted to go overboard designing your invoices, download a professional, clean template and don’t worry about customizing it extensively. Clients will have plenty of other opportunities to see your talent.
If a client doesn’t want to see past work, don’t push
It’s disappointing when a client doesn’t want to see the amazing work you’ve done, or when they don’t bat an eye when you casually drop the names of famous people you’ve worked for. It’s harsh, but it happens. Either they don’t recognize the names, or it doesn’t matter to them.
Several years ago, I worked with a client that wanted me to create a customized email marketing campaign for several branches of leads coming in through his web forms. I had previous experience in his niche – plant-based home remedies – and wanted him to see the high click-through rates from my former project. I had a well-documented marketing strategy that worked with his target market.
Then I sent him an email with a link to screenshots of my stats, but he never responded. At our next meeting, I asked if he had a chance to check out my results in his niche, and he said he didn’t have much time, but he trusted my abilities and was happy to wait for his results. I didn’t know whether to be happy to have his trust, or offended that he wasn’t interested in my past results.
The truth is, some clients just want the job done and aren’t concerned with the details. They don’t care about screenshots showing what you accomplished in the past because that was just a snapshot in time. What matters to them is what you can do for them now.
Whenever you meet a client like that, don’t push. Get in rapport with them by going with their flow. Switch your focus from past to present, and focus on getting the results you’ve promised them.
Ask clients if they’d like to see more of your work
For someone to appreciate your past accomplishments, they need to be present with what you’re asking them to look at. People only become present when they choose to focus their attention. When you have past results to show a client, present it to them by first asking if you can share it with them. Say, “I’ve got some past results that show what’s possible for your project, may I show you?” Although it seems like you’re asking permission, what you’re really doing is getting their attention.
If you send someone unrequested links to your portfolio in an email, they’re probably not going to look at them right away. You may walk into your next meeting thinking they’ve checked out all your wonderful work, when in fact, they haven’t even opened your email and won’t until the project is halfway done.
Demonstrate how past results apply to your current project
Clients don’t know what they’re looking at until you tell them. Sending them bar graphs and pie charts isn’t effective. It’s probably best to show them results in person, or over a live conversation so you can explain what they’re looking at and why they should care. They need to see what’s in it for them; to know you can get them the same results.
Be humble and interesting
Self-promotion isn’t bad, but your presentation is everything. According to communication consultant Peggy Klaus, the fear of sounding like a braggart denies professionals the opportunity to explain to clients the value they provide. The fear causes people to avoid talking about themselves altogether.
You don’t need to remain silent, but you don’t have to show every client everything you’ve ever done, either. Share a little up front and be willing to share more when appropriate, but don’t focus all of your energy on trying to prove yourself. Be minimal in what you offer unsolicited, but always be ready to assert your expertise where needed.