Would it every occur to you get engaged, to promise marriage to someone you didn’t know? Relationships take time to foster and they require intentional action. Remember what it was like when you first met that special someone? Your first few dates were all about getting to know that person. You were intrigued by them. You asked a lot of questions. You showed them that you were interested in them and in their life. You opened up and shared details about you and allowed them a glimpse into who you are what makes you tick. You probably spent countless hours just talking and getting to know each other. You were on your best behavior and trying to make a good impression.
We should be looking at an engagement with a client in the same way. This client is entrusting us with their audience, their reputation and their time, they deserve the same attention. We seem to forget sometimes to get the “yes”, just like in an engagement with a loved one, we need to create a trusted relationship with a strong foundation and we need to foster that relationship and the commitment that comes along with it.
Consider these questions when you’re courting your client and getting to know the audience.
- What is the demographic of the audience? Ages, gender, ethnicity?
- What are the greatest challenges facing your audience? What keeps them up at night?
- What are trends in their industry and how are those trends impacting audience members?
- What are the buzz words used in their work, industry, or community?
- How do they measure success? How does your client measure the success of your performance?
- What is your client hoping to gain through your performance?
- How does the audience typically like to be engaged? Are there certain actions or words that are offensive or off limits?
- The best question of all is not a question – it is simply to listen
When There’s No Spark
Not every first date leads to an engagement and not every prospective client is right for you. Part of building a strong relationship is creating trust. I have had very few speakers in the past tell me straight up that they didn’t think they were right for what I needed. Those special few were honest about the benefits they could bring to my audience and honest in the fact that my needs and their message or talent did not match up well. Those are the professionals that I created valued relationships with. I may not have hired them for that gig, but I recommended them and if the right opportunity came along I turned to them for their talents.
A much more common scenario that I have faced as an event planner is the empty promise from a speaker who blindly proclaims to be my Prince Charming who will ride in and save the day. Remarkably, this is typically the person who never asks a single question about my audience, their needs, their challenges or the desired outcome.
You may be Prince Charming to some but you are not to everyone and that’s OK. Sometimes there is just no spark but perhaps if you’ve made a good impression they’ll set you up with a friend – who knows?