What's More Important Than Building Authority?

Jan 10, 2022
Everyone is always saying you need to build your authority, and then the clients will come crawling to you. Except that's not true, and oftentimes during the process of attracting clients, we focus on building authority at the expense of something just as important...intimacy.
In this episode I talk about how to connect and build relationships with your ideal clients...so they actually end up working with you.

Hey there, and welcome to the Client Attractor Show. I'm your host, Jacob Ratliff, author of the brand new book Client Attractor. You can pick your copy of Client Attractor up for free at clientattractorbook.com. All you have to do is pay shipping, and we will get your copy out right away. 

Today, we are going to be talking about a really important distinction to be aware of when it comes to how you're communicating with your ideal clients, whether that is through your content, through one-on-one conversations, or any other medium. This is a distinction that's really important to be aware of, and it's the distinction between authority and intimacy. Now, if you've been building your business for really any amount of time, you've probably heard this piece of advice, which is you need to build authority and show that you are the expert in your space, and you probably know that being an authority means being this preeminent adviser in your field, and you've probably been told that showing up in that way makes new clients come crawling to you. 

 Now, building authority is really important. Showing your expertise through your social media posts, the engagement that you do and everything you do, those all build authority. But oftentimes, when we are talking about and focusing on building authority, that's kind of where the conversation ends. It becomes a matter of, okay, well, if I build authority, then the clients are going to come crawling to me, and then we're all going to live happily ever after. That's not entirely true, and that's because in focusing too much on building authority, there's ultimately nothing separating you from everyone else in your field, everyone else in your space, who is out there doing the same thing as you, who is in the same niche as you, and who is trying to build their own authority. Because it's kind of like they're over there holding up a sign that says, “Hey, look at me. Look at me. Look what I know. Look how smart I am. I'm an expert,” and you're over here doing that exact same thing, trying to build your own authority. 

 What that means is relying on your authority alone doesn't actually attract clients. Oftentimes, it kind of devolves into this screaming match of “I'm more of an expert than you,” “No, I’m more of an expert than you,” but more importantly, putting all your eggs in the authority basket. Pouring all of your energy into building authority comes at the expense of something that's just as important as authority, and maybe even more important, and that's intimacy. 

 Intimacy is the actual closeness that you create with your ideal clients. It’s the relationships and trust that you build through that authentic connection. It doesn't have to do with proving that you know what you're talking about, or pitching a prospect. It's all about that rapport and relationship that you build with them. In other words, intimacy is what helps you rise above that screaming match, and that will help you rise above all the competition trying to prove their own authority. It actually gets you clients. 

 So, let's pretend there are two coaches, who both help their clients with similar issues. They're equally competent coaches, and they both have a great track record of helping their clients get results. The coach who gets the client, however, isn't going to be the one standing over there saying, “Look at me. Look at all the things I know.” The coach who gets the client is the one who actually connects with the prospect. Maybe she made sure that her prospect felt really heard in those conversations, or maybe they just connected over comparing their grandmother's apple pie recipes, and that's because your ideal clients don't care only about working with someone who knows what they're talking about. They also want to work with someone that they can connect with, someone that they trust, and really someone that they just like and get along with. 

 And the same is probably true for you. You probably only want to work with clients you actually like too because you want it to be that win-win. Aside from content, one of the most common venues for conversation with your prospective clients is in the direct messages, the DMs, whether that's on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, whatever. To give you an example, if I were having a DM conversation from a place of trying to establish my authority, and trying to, in all honesty, prove that I knew what I was talking about, I would be coming to the conversation from this place of thinking about all the advice I could give the person on the other side. And I don't know about you, but personally, I really hate unsolicited advice, and even if you don't hate unsolicited advice, it's a safe bet that your ideal client hates it. 

 But if you came to that conversation from a place of creating that intimacy, actually building the relationship, creating this closeness with the person on the other side, you're going to be a lot better received. So the key to communicating with your prospective clients is simply to empathize with them, to relate to them, learn about them, and really build that relationship. It's the same as meeting someone new for the first time, whether it's at a party or at your neighborhood park. You're not jumping to see how you can help them or jumping to solve a specific issue in their life, and chances are that you're not thinking through each word you say, trying to figure out how you're going to get them from that party or from that park onto a strategy session. Right? It sounds kind of ridiculous; that's because it is. 

Instead, you're just chatting to get to know them, and that's the type of closeness that you want to be creating as you're building these relationships with your prospective clients. One really great example of this in practice is a story that one of my greatest mentors in life and business loves to tell. His name is Jerry Hancock. He is actually my grandfather. He is the co-founder of Alexander Hancock Associates, which is a boutique consulting agency who has worked with tons of big-name clients, companies like T. Rowe Price, Ally Financial, New Balance, really high-level companies and organizations. 

 He talks about how he was working at the Naval Shipyard where he and his partner, my grandmother, and I were conducting a training on presentation and writing skills. While walking to lunch with the training director of the shipyard, he paid close attention to the work going on around him. He noticed that things would be going a lot better if the managers and supervisors were communicating more effectively with their employees, so he asked the training director if he'd be interested in a performance management training program. The director said, “Hell yeah,” and he immediately brought him in to present the program to their team of managers, who were really interested in what he had to say. 

 That simple mention of “Hey, is this something that you would be interested in?” resulted in a $50,000 project with the US Navy. But what if Jerry hadn't been friends with or hadn't already established that relationship with the training director? Well, the training director would have looked at him and said, “Who the hell are you? Who the hell are you to give me advice? I don't even know who you are.” The reason the story in this example is important is that it shows just how vital these relationships are to actually making sales and getting clients, because ultimately, what everything runs on is the relationships that you build with these people. 

 So, the next time that you are faced with proving that you're an expert versus connecting with someone, it's probably in your best interest to connect with that person. Thank you so much for joining me for today's episode of the Client Attractor Show. Remember to hop on over to clientattractorbook.com to pick up your free copy today, and until then, I will see you tomorrow.

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