It’s Okay To Tell A Client ‘No’ Or That You Don’t Know How

it's okay to say noI’ve been working on a fundraising letter for my favorite non-profit. I’m part of the committee that helps raise money and usually the problem is just that – trying to get something written when I have to include or at least acknowledge the contributions of six or seven other people. It can be maddening at times, but it’s also a labor of love and I get plenty of praise and no real pressure.

It turns out that this particular letter will be sent via email and not printed.

Using an graphic from a previous letter, I picked a background color in Outlook 2007 and made sure the graphic matched the background color – it looks good. Except, the leader of this organization is on a Mac and I’m on a PC. She can’t see the background color on the letter, just on the graphic, which is a bit odd.

She suggested that a way around the problem of Mac/PC issues might be to put the letter in html.

That’s when I ran into into time eating trouble. I cannot find instructions I understand about how to use my own html in Outlook 2007. After posting on a couple of forums and doing umpteen Google searches, I created a copy in Word, adding the background color and saved it as a .pdf. I thought about using gmail, but they’ve changed their interface and I had already spent more than enough time on the deal. So I sent an email saying I didn’t now how to do it and that if someone else couldn’t handle that part, the the letter would have to go as a .pdf or in an email knowing those on Macs wouldn’t see the colors.

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The One-Sentence Client Magnet

You’ve found a client prospect and you want to convince that client to hire you. So you turn on the charm, practice your elevator speech, dust off your credentials, and wait for the phone call.

That’s the hard way.

While there’s nothing wrong with talking with a client in that manner, it sets up an uneven relationship from the start. Essentially, you’re approaching the client as a job candidate would approach an employer – you’re applying for the job.

But isn’t that how we should be doing it, you ask? Yes and no. Mostly no. In fact, probably entirely no. Here’s why.

Your potential client may be like most clients – they understand that this is an alliance, a bit of a partnership. You’re a vendor providing a service and they’re contracting with you to get the job done. Sure, they have control over what it is they want. However, they don’t have control over you, nor are they looking for it.

Yet there are clients out there who cannot removed themselves from the employer/employee mindset. So when you approach the initial conversation as you would a job interview, that sends a message – you’re at their beck and call, and they’re going to manage you directly.

Do you really want that? No. Hell no.

There’s a better way.
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