What Do Your Clients REALLY Think of You?

I'd like to start this article with a test ?

What do you get when you cross a Northern Canadian male, a 4x4 truck and heavy rain?

You guessed it! ? Mud Bogging!!!!

That is how I spent my morning. My husband's new truck was too shinny, so he felt he had to get it dirty again just so he could wash it for the fourth time this week.

Of course, I won't say no to adventure so I hung up my leather coat and pulled out my bush jacket. Put away my fashion footwear and pulled on my rubber boots.

Then we hit the trails! I bit my tongue, possibly dislocated a shoulder and lost my sunglasses, the whole time yelling, "Yahooooo!"

We made it home in one piece but I think our mechanic is going to make some real easy money in the next couple of days. :0)

What does this have to do with business you ask? It's called balance ? and if you don't have balance, work and business are a whole lot tougher and a lot less fun.

This week I created a rather enlightening assignment for myself. My coach and I were discussing the importance of knowing what kind of an image we portray to the world.

How we think others see us and how we are actually perceived may be worlds apart.

Being a successful business owner, or achieving success in any endeavor, has a strong connection to how others regard us.

Building a solid, successful business is highly dependent on the relationships we build with our clients and customers.

You can provide a top quality product or service, but if a potential buyer does not feel comfortable with you or a sense of trust or caring on your part, it doesn't matter how good your product is.

In order to measure how I was portraying myself to others, I created a questionnaire and distributed it via e-mail to my family members, friends, peer coaches, clients, and acquaintances.

I asked for feedback from people I have known for only a few weeks, and some who have known me for years.

I wanted to capture a good cross-section that would cover the many different relationships over varying time periods.

I asked them to list for me the first five words or images that come to mind when they hear the name, Laurie Hayes.

The results came quick and I received close to 90 different answers. Many answers were also the same and this greatly assisted me in determining what the top five images were.

There was a tie for first place between "caring" and "funny." Actually, I collected, "humorous," "funny," "very funny" and "funny as hell!"

This gave me great peace of mind knowing that if some day I decide to abandon entrepreneurship, I can always join the circus! ;-)

This exercise was wonderful in that it demonstrated I am on track with my purpose.

My goal is to move others to where they want to be by providing support and inspiring action while keeping it fun. And through the feedback received, I know I am on course.

This was a great (and very important) exercise. How many businesses have failed because owners have failed to solicit feedback?

Often times, people will not tell you where you are falling short. And if they do, are you listening to them?

Instead of sharing their thoughts, some may let the friendship fade, find a new supplier, or even though they continue to associate with you, not recommend you to anyone else although they have ample opportunity.

It is very important to ask for feedback so you can measure your position.

If you want to portray a certain image, ask for others' opinions. This will help you know if you're accomplishing what you set out to or to the degree that you could be.

You must let those you ask know that absolute honesty is desired and that you respect their input and candor.

You should also be willing to accept what is presented. If you don't like some responses or if you disagree with them, look at the math.

If several people have indicated, "uninterested," take this seriously. Do not allow your judgment to step in and decide that they are wrong.

Think about what role you play in creating this feeling for them, and then decide what you will do about it.

If this response has been generated by several of those questioned, how many others may not have felt comfortable enough to offer you the same feedback even though they share it?

How do you think you portray yourself to others?

How are you really portraying yourself?

Measure and remain open to the results.

If you want to achieve success, you need strong, healthy relationships and you play a pivotal role in creating and maintaining them.

As a Life Strategy/Small Business Coach, Laurie works with small and home-based business owners who face the distinct challenges presented to small business. She is the author of numerous articles and a bi-weekly newsletter, "The Heart of Living."

To subscribe to her free newsletter and learn more about coaching, visit http://www.wheretheheartis-lifecoaching.com

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