|Could you take this guy seriously?|
I get why some women (especially those with kids) feel the need to hide their identity. One of the most well-known examples of a gal using the resemblance of a man in her writing proved that it can sometimes be the only way to get into certain career opportunities and be taken at her worth. I like to think, however, that the tide is turning. Women (and moms, especially) are being considered for all kinds of jobs, and their small businesses are getting just as much attention as their male counterparts.
There are some things you can do to be sure that you help your odds of being taken seriously, however. Most of them are common sense; many of them, however, are not being followed. Make sure you are presenting yourself in the most professional light by doing the following:
1. Keep your kids out of the picture (at least for a while.) Clients that I’ve worked with for a number of years understand and appreciate that I’m a mom of 5. I wouldn’t hesitate to have the baby on my lap for an informal conference call or share a story of a recent “cute baby moment” to those who share my interests or ask about it, specifically. (Some clients, in fact, have given me MORE business due to my Mommy identity. They request content from me over other freelancers because I have knowledge in the area of big family finance.)
If you are meeting with a prospect or a new client, however, there should be no Calliou going on in the background or constant apologies for your screaming brood. Businesses is businesses, and unless you are marketing your child’s tale of missing the potty as part of your sales pitch, get a sitter for your first few interactions with a new business contact.
2. Refrain from lazy or “mommy” lingo. You know what I mean… it’s easy to fall into the trap of using simple language when you’ve been conversing with kiddos all day. I like to practice my elevator pitch a few times alone before talking with a new client, and I always write down some talking points ahead of time that I can refer back to. This way, whenever I’m stumped for something smart to say, I can refer to “analytics” and “conversion rates” rather than “all that stuff.”
3. Keep serious hours (or at least appear to). Most PR professionals I know are always online when I do the bulk of my work (after 11 pm Monday – Sunday.) I know this, because that’s when their emails will trickle into my inbox. I don’t want people to think that my hours are too weird to accommodate any “bankers' hours” requests, however, so I sometimes schedule my outgoing messages to arrive during sane people’s schedules. Likewise, my new clients don’t need to know that I will be taking Monday from 1-3 pm off to go to my kid’s well-baby check or to run to the store for lice shampoo and garbage bags. What I do in my own time is my own business; as long as I meet their expectations, we’re good (and TMI is a biz killer.)
4. Put pants on (that aren’t elastic-waisted, please.) Everyone jokes about how great it is to be able to work all day in your pajamas as a work-at-home mom. Do you want to know why the FIRST thing I do when I work each day is put on a nice pair of jeans and my shoes? I feel better about myself than when I’m doing “sloppy” dress. When clients call unexpectedly, I feel put-together and confident. I feel like I deserve their business. My productivity increases two-fold. (Passing yourself in the bathroom mirror and thinking “yuck” is a motivation-killer. You deserve better than that.)
In short, you should take yourself seriously in order for your clients to do so, as well. Do you do all you can to present a professional front for your business? If so, how?
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