How to boost your confidence when you feel out of your league

You started this business because you knew a thing or two. Maybe you worked in a similar business for someone else, or it was something you did “on the side” and you finally decided to make it a “real thing”; but somehow you became good enough at it that people wanted to pay you for it. So you took the leap.

how to boost your confidence

But now you find yourself in a different category. Now you have found all these other folks who do something like what you do; and they are good at it. Here your clients are working with you, but you aren’t as good as that woman who is so famous on the Internet. Why aren’t they working with her?

All of a sudden your clients are looking to you for answers. And when you give them your best guess, they take it as gospel! You worry, “What if I’m wrong? What if this doesn’t work?” So you start to hedge your answers: “One way you could do it would be…” or “Something you could try…” But clients don’t want one way; they don’t want to “try” anything. They want the answer, from an expert. And that expert is you.

So here are a few ways on how to boost your confidence and be the expert that you are:

You are the expert

I know there are other people out there with more expertise than you have. (That’s good; you can learn from them.) But of all the people your client is going to talk to today not one of them knows more about your area of expertise than you do. Maybe your client has years more business experience than you do, but how much of every day do they spend thinking about your area of expertise? If they spend an hour a day (which they don’t) it would take them 10 years to catch up to the amount of time you put in just this last year! You know more about this than they do; you need to act like it.

Show up with confidence

Walk in the door knowing you can help them. There is no doubt that you can make a difference for this client. Clients that are a big mess don’t need experts, they need the basics. Clients who are doing a lot well are just looking for that incremental improvement. You can do that for each of those clients! Think back to the clients who really took your advice — how did that go? Right, things are better already! (And just in case, here’s a few ways to build your confidence, too.)

Use your words

Sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot right from the get-go. When we aren’t feeling confident, our language reflects our ambivalence. For confident clients, that’s like baiting them with red meat. If you show weakness they are likely to pounce! Don’t leave them that opening: make sure your language reflects that you are the expert. Speak with confidence.

  • Instead of “We could try…” say “I recommend…”
  • Instead of “Sometimes I’ve suggested…” say “In my experience…”
  • Instead of “Here’s some options…” say “There are a number of ways we could approach this, but my recommendation is…”

Don’t hide from the truth

Not all of our advice works out. When the results aren’t what you and your client expected, don’t wait for them to bring it up, don’t cower in fear — get out in front of it. Call them and tell them about the results. But don’t call without having thought about what went wrong and how to fix it. Call with a plan: here’s what we tried, and here are the results. I think this is the problem, here’s how we fix it. Experts take responsibility for results and don’t shy away from accountability.

Take some credit

If you are going to get blamed when results are poor (and you are) then you need to make sure the client recognizes when things go well. There are some clients who will brush right past the good results and jump right to the next assignment or challenge — these are also the clients who are quick to ask, “What have you done for me lately?” when things aren’t going well. Situations like these can lower your confidence level. But don’t be shy; stop them and review the positive results with them. Get an acknowledgement from them that something went well, and that your advice was right on.

You work hard to be the best you can be. You don’t have to be the #1 worldwide expert in order to be the #1 expert in your client’s world. Everyday you get smarter, better and more experienced. Bring that expert to your client meetings and that’s one of the best confidence boosters you can get.

How do you demonstrate your expertise to demanding clients? What do you do to show that you are the expert?

Photo credit: Unsplash

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