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Who's Listening?

When Alice roamed through her mystical and puzzling Wonderland, only one character listened to her - the Cheshire Cat. Your clients have a story in which you now play a part. So, are you truly listening to them?

Small business owners and entrepreneurs will undoubtedly receive unsolicited advice and opinions on what they should do to incorporate, how they should use social media, and when they should execute their action plans.

But, while some unsolicited advice can be a blessing, it can often cause angst and throw people off course. For example, they incorporate before forming a solid business plan, employ inappropriate social media channel(s), and execute tasks before thoroughly planning them out).

So, when it comes to your clients, listen first and propose or consult second. Below are six ways to do this:

  1. Don't Talk! Listen. You can't correctly consult someone whose needs you don't fully understand.

  2. Inquire! Ask them to describe their ideal solution or endgame and focus on planning objectives.

  3. Absorb what your clients tell you and use it as a baseline for how you service them

  4. Preface suggestions with "I think it's in your best interest to..." versus "I think you should..."

  5. Empathize with your clients when dealing with budget constraints and other limitations

  6. Understand that while you're an expert, they're being bombarded by contrary opinions

Listening is a learned skill; the last time many of us mastered this was as a newborn (because we had no voice yet). So, try listening! As much as you desperately want to interrupt your clients to let them know you have the answers to their problems. Collect your thoughts. Offer suggestions when prompted. Help them!

Otherwise, you risk failing them as their tour guide through their Wonderland.

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