Dear Friends & Colleagues:

2021 is almost in the books. It has been another challenging year – in many regards. With multiple waves of COVID variants – life opening up and then shutting down again. For many sectors of the economy, especially those in consulting and professional services, it’s been a banner year. For other sectors, it’s still far from great. Add to that labor shortages, rising wages, supply chain disruptions, work from home, virtual classrooms and for many, burnout.

With all that said, there is much that I am thankful for. I am grateful for my family, friends, work colleagues and readers. During this holiday season, I want to take time to pause and reflect upon the many good things in my life. Most importantly, the wonderful relationships I have with many of you. And, at the same time, I offer a prayer for those that have lost loved ones or have struggled in other ways.

This year also marked the publication of my 2nd book, How To Win Client Business. Thanks to all of you for your support and to Wiley and my agent, Sheree Bykofsky, for helping make this book a reality. This week’s peek is from Chapter 10: How To Toot Your Own Horn without Looking Like a Jerk.

In this chapter I discuss the proven ways we can demonstrate to prospective clients that we are bona fide experts in our field. This crucial skill is important because clients cannot see the knowledge in our heads. Demonstrating our expertise is an important milestone in the client’s buying decision journey.

In addition to the text excerpt below, I’m providing a short 5 minute audio version as well – narrated by me. So, if you’d rather listen to a sample from Chapter 10 in lieu of the text excerpt, here you go. (Note: If your preferred format is audio, the audiobook is now available on Amazon and is beautifully narrated by Barry Abrams – one of the best in the industry.)

Without further delay, here’s this week’s excerpt. I hope you enjoy it!



Chapter 10: How to Toot Your Own Horn without Looking Like a Jerk

Proven Techniques for Demonstrating Your Expertise


Technique 6: High-Profile Work and Case Studies


Clients prefer to work with professionals who have significant experience in solving

problems similar to their own. In many cases, the best way to demonstrate our

expertise is through our previous work for similar clients. Jean Brillat-Savarin, the

nineteenth-century French politician, once quipped, “Let me taste the dish and you

can spare me the rhetoric of how well you cook.”


Consider these scenarios:


  • If you were a community looking to design a new high school, wouldn’t you

seek the help of an architectural design firm with an extensive portfolio of

school projects?


  • If you were a private company about to enter Chapter 11 bankruptcy, wouldn’t

you seek the help of a corporate bankruptcy attorney with a long resume of

similar client work?


  • If you were a century-old consumer goods retailer in need of a branding

overhaul, wouldn’t you look for someone who had turned around other tired,

struggling brands?


The work you have done for others becomes your reputation. Longfellow

noted, “We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us

by what we have already done.” Many successful rainmakers leverage their high profile

work to open the doors to similar client work. These marquee projects

become a calling card for future clients.


I realize that not every profession lends itself to this approach. There are

certain types of services that are more discreet. If you are a communications specialist

helping troubled companies navigate crisis PR situations, your clients may

not be too keen on you broadcasting their troubled situation to the world. But

these situations are the exception rather than the norm.


Our websites and other marketing materials are the perfect place to showcase

our most impressive work. This isn’t bragging in a way that Ms. Coby would

frown upon. This is simply sharing the impressive work we’ve done for others. I’m

surprised at how infrequently professionals showcase their best work. If you were

a prospective client researching potential providers, would you rather visit a firm’s

website that:


  • Option A: Offers a lot of puffery about how awesome they are?
  • Option B: Offers examples of the awesome work they’ve done for others?


I don’t think I’m alone in preferring Option B. Option A is simply bragging.

Bragging is making grandiose claims without any credible evidence to support it.

Not only is bragging distasteful, but it’s not very effective.


According to my research data, two-thirds of all new client inquiries arrive

via company websites. These are inquiries from individuals with whom you do not

have an existing relationship. Prospective clients do a lot of research online before

deciding to reach out to us.


Clients are becoming more like Willard Vandiver every day. Willard who?

Willard Vandiver is the late congressman who gave Missouri its famous tagline,

the Show Me State. In an 1899 speech he gave at a Navy banquet in Philadelphia,

he said:


I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats,

and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You

have got to show me.


Individuals and firms who demonstrate their expertise through good examples

of their work build credibility. So I would say to all aspiring rainmakers, use your

websites and social media platforms to showcase your great work. Keeping your

website content fresh with your latest work provides prospective clients with

channel markers that guide them safely to a good decision.



Click here to order your copy of my new book, How To Win Client Business, today!