Dec 5, 2022

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How to Confidently Attract Clients (Even When You Feel Shy & Anxious)

business, personal, The Anxious Creative

Two people. First one is standing on left looking at person 2 who is sitting in a chair with a big smile on face. They are in front of an open window with cars in the distance. Text below reads "The Ultimate Guide to Attracting Your Ideal Client"

Building clientele can be confusing and overwhelming, particularly if you’re an anxious introvert who finds it difficult to talk to strangers. I’m diving into how to grow a clientele, even when you’re shy, anxious, and hate talking to people. 

Keep reading and you’ll walk away knowing:

  • How to be confident, even if you don’t feel like it

  • The lightbulb moment that changed the way I look at client attraction

  • Why it’s important to always attract new clients

You’ll learn that it’s easier than you think it is to attract dream clients. Even the most introverted beauty professional can fill their books with the best clients.

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The Introvert’s Guide to Client Attraction

When I first started in the industry, I hated doing hair. Starting school, all I wanted to do was get through it fast. 

After I graduated, I got my first job and I had to start at the bottom. I was stuck doing the grunt work; washing bowls, sweeping floors, cleaning sinks – I absolutely hated it. 

I considered quitting so many times because I wasn’t where I wanted to be. 

While I was allowed to take requests, I wasn’t allowed to take walk-ins (which made getting requested a little difficult) and my days were long and slow. 

Getting Out of My Comfort Zone

It didn’t take long for me to get completely frustrated with the 8-9 hour days of cleaning (I don’t even clean my house that much in a week!), hoping that someone would come in and book with me. 

I realized that if I wanted something to change, I needed to do something about it. So I decided that I was going to take wild responsibility for my career. 

I can still remember the first time I handed out a business card to a stranger. I was in Sobey’s grocery shopping right behind my apartment. I knew that I had to start getting comfortable talking to people and inviting them in because no one else was going to build my clientele for me. 

I was so nervous. I’m pretty sure my hand was shaking, with a vice grip on my “business cards”. They weren’t personalized cards or anything, just an appointment reminder card from the salon with my name penned in. 

If you didn’t know, I’m a super shy, introverted, anxious gal who grew up in a small town. I was the kid who hid behind my mom’s leg when people were around. 

I did not like talking to other people. 

And at 18, I was still struggling with talking to strangers and here I was going to tell this grocery store clerk that I’d really like to do her hair. 

Practice Makes Progress

I’m pretty sure it all came out completely jumbled in one long string of words: “Heyimahairstylistandidreallylovetodoyourhair”

I’m sure I looked pretty foolish. (And if you were wondering, that person never booked in as a client). It’d be easy to look at that moment and think “wow, that’s embarrassing, you should just quit right now.”

But the reality is, without that moment, I wouldn’t be where I am today. 

That was a pivotal moment in my career where I got to make a choice, and that choice was entirely my own responsibility. 

I could have easily just sat at the salon, waiting around for residual people, never putting myself out there. Feeding myself stories that I’m not cut out for this, I can’t do it and I should just give up. 

And I probably would have ended up quitting and gone and done something else. 

I’m not entirely sure what it was in me, maybe it was a wild belief in myself and what I was capable of, but I knew there was a confident person inside of me and I needed to get it out into the world. 

I knew I wanted more. I knew I wanted to be outgoing and to be heard. I didn’t want to be labeled as shy and introverted. But that’s what I was. 

After that first interaction in the grocery store, I remember making the conscious decision that even though that interaction was embarrassing and totally sucked, I needed to go and do it again. 

And I did! I did it again, and again, and again. 

And within two years of working in the salon, I was fully booked AND I was out-earning my boss. 

Playing The Odds

My boss and I would have friendly competitions to see who could bring in the most revenue. And I won a couple of times! Now, that’s not to say I was the most talented or skilled stylist at the salon, remember I was still only two years into my career. 

Revenue and how fully booked you are, does not correlate with how skilled and talented you are. That’s a big thing I see in the industry is professionals think they’re above having to build and attract clientele. I believe it’s a constant part of your career. 

Once I started getting outside of my comfort zone and talking to strangers, it started to become a game for me. I realized the odds. If I talked to 10 people, maybe 1 or 2 would come in. So if I wanted 10 new people in my chair, I needed to really be putting myself out there. 

And guess what. The more I did it, the easier it got and the more confident I became with it. Each time I talked to someone I took it as a learning experience of what to say and how to say it. 

All I did was start the conversation, and I came to learn that starting with a compliment felt the most natural and it made the conversation flow a lot easier. 

Sometimes we mistake putting ourselves out there as just handing over our card and letting the person know what service we offer. And for us awkward, anxious, introverted, ADHD people, that can feel weird. 

Social interactions are weird, I make everything awkward. But learning to give a compliment, and making their day, makes starting the conversation that much easier. 

Starting the conversation with a compliment opens up opportunities and makes it feel less weird and salesy. It’s a nice introduction.

I try not to preplan everything I’m going to say. I used to spiral into anxiety trying to script the entire conversation. Instead, I began to learn how to just start a conversation. Then it became a game and a competition with myself. 

Rebuilding Clienteles Overseas

So I started doing this at 18/19 and within 2 years I was fully booked. It was awesome. 

Then I moved overseas when I was 21 to London and I built my clientele over there. Actually, on the day I interviewed for the job, they made me go onto the streets of London and find a client to do their hair. It was nerve-wracking, but my two years of practice had prepared me for this moment. 

Apparently, a lot of people who interviewed there would actually just leave when it came to finding a client on the street. Super proud of myself for that one!

Then I came back from London and brought some of my clients back. Until I moved to Australia, where I got my dream job. I was hired as a lead colorist working under the Australian hairstylist of the year, and I had to build my clientele there from scratch. 

Then I came back home and I rebuilt my clientele. 

And in 2010, I went self-employed and left the salon I was at. A lot of my clients followed me but I continued to invite new people in. 

Now I wanna make it clear that it’s not that I had this wild, drastic change of personality where I suddenly loved talking to strangers. Practice made me more comfortable and confident with it. 

But when I’m out of practice, like when I went out on my own, 3 years after I left Australia, I was a little rusty with inviting people in. I had to get back into the habit of it. 

It might be a little uncomfortable, but it won’t be painful. 

In 2014 I packed up my life and moved to a brand new city where I was starting from scratch knowing no one. 

Fully Booked

Within a week of moving to Calgary, I got permission to plumb a sink into my basement. Despite not liking the house I was living in (I didn’t feel like it was super professional looking), I knew the quality of work I could produce. I knew the experience I could give to people. 

So I didn’t factor in my location or that I was in a basement into my prices. And I didn’t let it factor into how I promoted myself. 

Before I moved, I started posting local hashtags on Instagram and putting myself on people’s radars.

I want you to know that I’m not naturally confident or extroverted. I just wanted to show people what I could help them with. I have a deep desire to help people feel and know their worth. 

So I stopped focusing on how to get myself booked and started focusing on how to help people that I would love to have as clients know and feel their worth. 

I would send people DMs letting them know what I had to offer, how I could help them, and how I could make their day. 

This shy, introverted, small-town gal, in a new city, at 31 years old, where I knew no one, by myself, on my own accord, took wild responsibility for my situation. I got tenacious, gritty, and scrappy, put my all in, and within 12 weeks, I was fully booked. 

So I want you to know that if you think you don’t have what it takes or you’re too shy or introverted and you think this isn’t going to work for you, it won’t if you’re thinking that way. Get out of your own way and stop using these excuses

And that’s a reminder for myself as well. My excuses still come up every now and then. I still struggle with this too. 

The things I’m passionate about helping you through are because I’ve maybe gone through it once, but I continue to go through it. You’re actually helping keep me accountable and reach my goals and dreams and I want to do the same and help push you forward. 

I want to motivate you, I want to inspire you, and show you what’s possible.

But know that my own work is far from done. And you, being here, tagging me in your stories, DMing me on Instagram – you motivate me to keep going and help keep me accountable on my journey. 

And we’re a team. I want you to know that I’m beside you in this. I will continue to take wild responsibility for my life, even when speedbumps, roadblocks, and detours come up. 

I want you to know that feeling boxed in by others or by ourselves is hard. And sometimes we box ourselves in, or we use excuses to keep ourselves safe. Because the world can be a risky place for us to live in. 

We’ve been in situations and scenarios where the response was unpredictable and we want to avoid that at all costs. 

So we want to control our environment and stay safe. But I want you to know that the world is still safe if you straddle your comfort zone.

I wish I could tell you that you’re never going to fail. But you are going to be on the receiving end of other people’s mistakes or actions against you. 

The reality is there isn’t going to come a time when building a clientele or taking risks in business isn’t going to be hard. Rejection is hard. But coming to terms with the fact that the worst thing someone is going to say to you is “no”, start to make friends with that. 

You can always try again. Don’t ever forget that you’re a big deal who can do hard things

Stop beating yourself up. You’re keeping yourself trapped by being so hard on yourself. Have kindness, compassion, and empathy for yourself. 

Know that getting started is often the hardest part, once the ball is rolling it’s a lot easier to maintain the momentum. 

I want you to know that even if you’re shy, introverted, from a small town, the odds are against you, or you’ve been dealt a shitty hand, you can still do hard things. Don’t let those things hold you back, and instead used them as motivation. 

Because if this shy, introverted, anxious, small-town gal could move to a new city, where she knew no one and had no help could get fully booked in under 12 weeks, you 110% can do even better. 

If you want to dive deeper into growing your clientele, check out my Client Building Bundle, where I show you exactly what I did to get fully booked in under 12 weeks.

See ya next time, friend. 

Let’s be besties?

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I am just a small-town, Canadian gal from the prairies who teaches thousands of creatives around the globe how to earn 6-figures stress-free!

Hey, I’m Dawn!

“Rock Your Business” Course Creator, Host of “The Anxious Creative” Podcast. Named by Salon Magazine as Canada’s #1 women of influence.

Get to know me! :-)

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