In the early days of opening my virtual assistance business, I lost out on a potential client, and I know for an actual fact that it was because of my resistance to hopping on a video call with them.
The thing is, I used to HATE them because I’m very shy when meeting new people and pretty introverted. I think more clearly when I write out my thoughts because I can focus on the project instead of my nerves.
Even though I meditate and work on staying present in my regular life, video calls with strangers would quickly get an “OMG, I look so nervous, they obviously hate me, I can’t stop smiling like an idiot, I sound so dumb” mantra running through my head. I still get nervous, but I’ve come up with some ways that make it easier for me to manage.
If you’re a freelancer or a solopreneur who provides a service instead of products, chances are you occasionally (or a lot!) need to speak with prospective clients too. Though some people are fine with phone calls, Zoom chats are preferred. You can’t blame people for wanting to hop on a call and get to see you’re a real human and get a sense of who you are before handing over their trust and their money to someone they’ve never met on the internet. I also do recognize that many things are more easily explained when you’re talking and can share your screen, so better for clarity efficiency too…
Please don’t forget that you should be evaluating your potential client as much as they’re evaluating you. It truly is a two-way street. I know in the beginning of your business, it doesn’t always feel that way, but please trust your gut.
Remember to ask yourself:
- Do you want to work with this person?
- Do you like what this person does?
- What is your intuition telling you about this client?
1. Get Dressed Up and Pulled Together
This may sound like a no duh to a lot of you, but I’ve heard stories of clients interviewing VA’s who are a mess, chewing gum, etc. Don’t do that!
If you know you have calls that day, shower, fix your hair, do your makeup if you wear it, and dress in something that looks professional and feels right.
It helps me to feel more relaxed if I’m dressed in a professional way that still lets me feel like myself. I guess I just feel I have more control/less uncertainty when I take the time to put myself together. This brings me to my next point…
2. Check Your Video and Audio Setup Ahead of Time
First, you want to make sure you don’t have any tech snags here before the call. Second, poor lighting and an unflattering angle might make you feel insecure, which the potential client could view as you being insecure about your work.
3. Understand and Accept That If You’re Shy Some Nerves are Inevitable
Don’t fight them; it will only make it worse. Try reframing the buzz as excitement, after all, that’s true! You’re probably eager to be of service and make a good impression because you’re excited to work with this person. It’s fine. If the potential client judges you too harshly for being nervous, you probably don’t want to work with them anyway.
4. Do Your Homework
Probably the most important piece. You want to feel prepared and ready to be as helpful as possible. Understanding some of who they are and what they do can help you have answers and ideas for them before the call even starts.
5. Map It Out
I have a workflow that maps out points I want to make sure we cover, questions I want to ask, and other important info.
Don’t try too hard to stick to the plan if that’s not how the conversation goes naturally, but it’s best to have a guide to avoid any awkwardness.
Structuring the call can also make it more productive for you both. Use your homework and also bring up common questions they might have, such as rates, how you work, contracts, etc.
6. Ask all the questions!
Come up with a few questions before you get on the call. Blanking out when a client asks “do you have any questions for me?” is super easy to do when you’re stressed. (At least, it is for me.)
Prepare a few questions while ahead of time. If the client answers all your questions before you get to ask, just let them know if you need some more time to digest everything and send any additional questions in an email. I haven’t run into anyone who took issue with this, so don’t beat yourself up if you get stumped.
Try to remember to take a deep breath here and there. You will feel calmer! You can usually get away with 5 slow deep breaths while you pause to think about an answer or while the client talks.
8. Mostly Listen
Practice active listening and make sure you’re fully understanding the problem the potential client or customer needs your help with and if you are truly capable of solving it. This will help keep you present too, instead of getting stuck in your head.
9. Keep One Eye on The Clock
You’ll want to keep on top of how long the call goes. One thing that’s a big red flag for a client for me is if they kind of fire-hose you with information and no understanding of your time boundaries. If the call has gone on for 25 minutes with no end in sight, you’ll need to brave your nerves and redirect course. I KNOW how challenging this can be if you’re shy or socially anxious, but just know that if they don’t respect your time and that you’re offering them a free chat, they will likely not respect your other boundaries and will be very difficult to work with and possibly to stand up against in the future. Trust me on this one. (My complimentary chats are 30 minutes long, just in case you are curious.)
10. Thank Them For Their Time
It sounds obvious, but just plan on doing it. Also, it is a good idea to have a post-call thank you template you can prep afterwards with the details and next steps.
11. Take Your Mind Off The Call Immediately After
Color, read, play a game, do a super focused half-hour work session, something! I know if I don’t do this, I’ll ruminate for a bit with unhelpful thoughts like “Did I bomb that? Did I smile too much? Do they think I’m a moron?” You’re done with the call and you probably did better than you think. Even if you didn’t, those thoughts aren’t going to change anything. For more ideas on self-care post call, check out my Pinterest board, Self-Care for Virtual Assistants.
Do you do video calls with potential clients?
How do you feel when doing them? What are some of your tips for success? Let us know in the comments!