Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.Proverbs 11:14
One of the most difficult things I struggle with when it comes to my clients is wanting to help them, but I am not invited to the table.
What I have learned from my 35+ years in the industry is that I have what my friend calls “accumulated scar tissue”. I have seen so many things and been in so many planning meetings that when I listen to your ideas I am bringing all of this to the table.
Just on Facebook the other day a photographer went to an event where they had the podium in front of a window. This makes it nearly impossible to get a good photo/video of the person at the podium. This is a great example that someone could have spoken into the planning that has the expertise of why you are doing the event – for media coverage.
Most of the time people are not going to invite you in and hold a meeting to listen to you. They are not even going to invite you to the room.
They often have a fear that you may only give them suggestions that are benefiting you and not the organization. Even if you have built the reputation for giving them advice that doesn’t benefit you and them, they are still so cautious they are missing out on some counsel.
How to be present when the client isn’t showing interest
Be available – Do everything you can reasonably do without being a stalker to show you are there for them. Just check in with them. Be Supportive – You are not asking for work, you are genuinely offering to help in any way you can.
Be Organic – Imagine allowing things to happen naturally, and things work out, and all you did was smile and watch. To do this you must know what you can do. You let what is going to happen, happen. Accept the outcome, good or bad. Always try and learn from the situation. If you have this attitude then when your client talks about something they are working on you will have the perfect opportunity to offer counsel.
Do your research – Nothing is worse than to have an opportunity drop in your lap and you botch it. Those opportunities come seldom, so do your homework. This is very hard to do if no one is letting you know what they are working on. This is kind of like how the US has to monitor North Korea, they have to ask China, Japan and South Korea to give them intel.
Model the behavior – Have you ever noticed that you want your client to open up so you can help, but you haven’t opened up for others to help you? This is probably my weakest area myself. Find someone you can talk to and this can help you think better and also develop the patience necessary.
Set Boundaries – Realize your limitations. Don’t become the pest. You don’t want to put pressure on them in any way. They should never feel pressured by you.
Don’t Avoid Them – This is strange that I should mention this, but sometimes we treat our clients like they lost a loved one or have cancer. We don’t know what to say, so we withdraw from them. Amazingly just being there for someone can mean sitting in silence with them. Having answers and ideas all the time isn’t as valuable as just knowing when you don’t have an idea.