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Shy Client Syndrome: Why Some People Need Longer To Evaluate Your Suitability

I was speaking with a small business mentoring client, Monica, earlier this week, and most notably discussing her sheer exasperation with how little visibility and engagement she appears to be getting on social media these days. I assured her she was not alone in assuming this, because it's something we all experience when we choose not to pay for advertising.

But the operative word here is appears. Whilst you might not receive as many Likes, Shares and Comments as you'd like, please don't assume your content is escaping entirely unnoticed. From my own business experience, I've had prospective clients contact me and confirm they've read every blog, listened to every podcast and enjoyed my social media content for yonks; even though I was entirely oblivious to their interest. And this is where it can get a bit deeper, especially if you're providing a service where discretion is of utmost importance.

As a NLP Performance Life Coach, Small Business Mentor and Young Person's E-Mentor for The Prince's Trust, not everyone I work with wants the world to know of our collaboration, and so they are unlikely to Like, Share and/or Comment on everything I post or publish; and that's their perogative. The same applies to my prospective clients too, who may prefer to silently observe my work and online content, getting to know me, whilst exercising their right to cautiously evaluate what I'm offering them, from afar. Once they have seen enough and are confident I'm the right person to help and support them, they will make contact and the strictly private working relationship between us begins. Rarely does anyone announce to the world that they intend to work with a performance life coach and mentor. I know that my other therapist, practitioner and counselor friends agree with me on this too.

Now let's take an unusual detour, but rest assured there is a method in my madness here.


My late brother's cat, Clawdia, gave me a teachable moment recently, in respect of the very issue we're discussing here. I will begin by outlining a brief summary of our backstory to bring you fully up to speed. In May, my brother was taken ill suddenly and unexpectedly, and subsequently died. On the night he was first hospitalised, my friend Dawn took Clawdia to look after, whilst I was otherwise preoccupied with my brother. However, true to character, Clawdia had other ideas and broke out of a locked cat flap to make her escape and legged it. We did all that we could to try and find or entice her back, but to no avail. As days became weeks and weeks became months, we feared Clawdia had either been hit by a car, eaten by a fox, or may even have attempted the 25 mile journey home; using her onboard CatNav [sorry, couldn't resist].

Whilst Clawdia had been microchipped, and the relevant agencies notified of my now next-of-kin status, we got to the beginning of November without the faintest whiff of her whereabouts. Then, just as suddenly and unexpectedly as my brother had passed away, another friend WhatsApp'd a screenshot of a post, from a local Facebook group that I do not belong to, announcing that Clawdia had been found by an amateur cat rescuer. My brother's name and town of residence had been obtained via the microchip data, and was duly detailed in the Facebook post. The chances of all this being a coincidence were zip. All I had to do was provide confirmation of Clawdia's microchip number, by way of ownership evidence, before a reunion could be arranged.

Long, long story short. We now know that Clawdia had been living rough across the road and a few doors down from Dawn's house the whole time. Always a prolific and accomplished hunter, Clawdia had found shelter at the bottom of Lynette-the-cat-rescuer's garden, and kept herself alive feasting on the mice living under the straw of a chicken coop. One day shortly after her great escape, Lynette had caught sight of Clawdia and encouraged her to come closer, for petting and bonding purposes, but Clawdia wasn't feeling as friendly and sociable. Slowly over the course of many months, Lynette continued to patiently put out food and water, always playing the game on Clawdia's terms and resisting the temptation to rush her, for fear of scaring her away completely.

Over the summer months, Lynette would sit and potter about in the garden, talking to friends on the phone during lockdown, acutely aware of Clawdia's continued, hidden and ever-watchful presence under the shrubbery, from afar. Lynette was being evaluated. Lynette knew she was evaluated and continued to do all that she could to persuade Clawdia to come out from undercover and get the care and attention she now so badly needed. Finally, after a total of six months out all hours and in all weather conditions, when Clawdia had confidently assessed Lynette as trustworthy and unlikely to harm her, Clawdia allowed herself to integrate with humans again, and is now deeply loved, safe and thriving in her new home. Just as winter was about to set in, so the timing of all of this just couldn't have been better, anyhoo...


Whenever you're tempted to feel despondent about a lack of Likes, Shares and Comments on your social media posts and blogs, remember you are still being evaluated by potentially interested 'pre-clients', even if they are choosing to remain unseen and detached in the process. Just because you can't see evidence of their engagement doesn't mean it's not happening. It doesn't mean your content is screaming in outer space where no one can hear its wisdom. As I said before, I've had pre-clients turn into actual clients - seemingly popping up from nowhere - but have in fact been following my every move. And remember The Passing Parade of Interest rules apply here too which, for the uninitiated, simply state that (as a rule of thumb) it takes seven passes of marketing content to register in the consciousness of your target audience. Client attraction is a marathon not a sprint, and consistent excellence is essential - like oxygen essential!

It's also worth noting that super entrepreneurial types tend to make quicker decisions and be more predisposed towards taking risks than most non-entrepreneurial types. This means that if your ideal client naturally features somewhere lower on the entrepreneurial scale, or maybe has trust issues, a general lack of confidence or low self-esteem (to name but a couple), it is highly likely they're going to take more time and care to evaluate your suitability. These are the precise reasons why you must keep posting and publishing, regardless of an apparent lack of engagement. Shy Client Syndrome simply means that some people will need more time to evaluate your suitability than others, and that's okay, but if you pack up and quit you won't be there for when they're ready to make their next move.

If you truly believe in what you're doing and it brings you the joy and success you seek, then keep doing it. I'm almost certain the universe tests us from time-to-time, to see how much we want it, by watching how hard we're prepared to fight for it, and we only lose when we quit. Surely it's only your ego that's bruised with a lack of thumbs up, but your ego can and must get over that for the sake of your sanity and quality of self-talk.

So, what fabulous content are you going to generate for tomorrow?

Bring the greatness to whatever it is.

My best to you, always.



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