How to stop being terrified to ask for what you want.
Asking for what you want can be difficult. According to Forbes, four common reasons for not doing so are:
- It makes us feel vulnerable
- We are afraid of not getting it, and save ourselves the disappointment
- We don’t know what we want
- We wouldn’t know what to do if we did get it
These worries and problems are not unique to you, or to me, but are a rather common part of the human experience. As an educator, however, the anxiety that comes from asking can be greater. Online teachers tend to be closely attuned to the needs of clients while experiencing difficulty in seeing to their own needs.
When teaching, this selfless attitude is great, because it helps an educator optimize their client experience. When building your tutorpreneur brand and business, this natural instinct can slow you down, and even push your business towards failure.
As an online tutor, whether part-time or full-time (and especially as a part-time educator working towards this becoming your full-time) your job is more than just showing up on time and sharing your passion for a subject effectively. Sure, this is the core of the work (and the most rewarding part), but without wearing a few other hats, you won’t sustain your business for long. The bad news is that you will have to go outside of your comfort zone, the good news is that this will help you grow as a tutor, entrepreneur, and as a person.
Make it clear that you can help when engaging online
A big part of growing your online education business is finding clients. While we have discussed the ways you can share your expertise to attract students, just posting online won’t be enough to help you ensure a sustainable online teaching career. You also have to ask.
It’s easy to incorporate strategic asking into your online presence. For every 5–6 tweets or Facebook messages you post helping someone or sharing your insight into the subject, add one where you explicitly state that you provide online teaching, and include a link to your profile online. Make it clear that this is what you do professionally.
Tutor.id made this part of the process even easier — just go to your tutor profile and click the URL next to your name:
The URL will be copied, and when you post it to Facebook or Twitter, it will turn into a nice, professional-looking business card.
While your online engagement is key to create a long-term presence online and secure your standing as an authoritative voice on a subject, don’t forget to let your followers know that they can get valuable, one-on-one tutoring with you.
Ask your friends, acquaintances, and neighbors for a referral
While online engagement is well and good, there is a lot to be said for finding students the old-fashioned way, through word-of-mouth referrals. If you already have happy and enthusiastically satisfied students, asking them to make sure they mention the learning they’ve would seem easy.
Unfortunately, the reality is more complicated. Even asking for something simple like a referral from an enthusiastically satisfied client or a close friend can feel uncomfortable. You may feel like you’re “burdening” them, or being annoying. You may just feel uncomfortable asking for anything or feel anxiety towards appearing unprofessional. As a coping mechanism (and an excuse not to ask) you may even think to yourself “Well, they know me, surely they would recommend me without my asking”.
This is an absolutely incorrect assumption. While any self-conscious person can expound on hundreds of awkward moments where they feel they’ve embarrassed themselves and were judged silently by others, research into the subject begs to differ. Turns out, most people just don’t think about you, they’re too busy worrying about themselves.
This has two important impacts on your tutorpreneurship:
- Even if the person you’re asking for a referral feels awkward, they will very quickly forget about it. We all get quickly distracted by the millions of little nagging concerns about our own lives.
- Without being reminded, even your close friends and family will forget to recommend you to someone looking to learn.
That last point should really motivate you. Unless you give your friends, family, and customers a reminder to recommend your services, they will probably forget even when the perfect opportunity presents itself.
Let go of your hang-ups on your own terms
Letting go of the self-consciousness that prevents you from asking for what you want is a key step in becoming a more successful and well-adjusted online educator. If the prospect of confidently asking for a client’s business (or even a referral) is troubling, don’t worry, you are not alone. Plenty of A-list celebrities are shy by nature and feel embarrassed or vulnerable under public scrutiny. Like them, you don’t have to change (or fight) your personality to be successful.
Becoming more comfortable with the art of asking is part of your tutorpreneur journey. It doesn’t mean you have to start bragging or being demanding. Instead, try to concentrate on the moments of delight that you create with your students, and make asking for feedback a regular part of your teaching process. Asking for feedback is a great way to get to know your students better, see how you can improve your teaching method, and provides a great opportunity to suggest referrals.
Make it a habit to ask for a referral when you hear enthusiastic feedback. When your student says “I feel like I’ve really made a lot of progress, this is great!” — that’s your cue to say “I’m so glad to hear that! If you know or come across someone who could use a similar positive learning experience, please make sure to let them know about me”. This approach will absolutely get you more clients. After all, word-of-mouth is the original, first, and the most powerful form of social media.