Question: Often when I’m invited in to present my work, the only person I actually know is the one who extended the invitation. I find it terribly difficult to remember the names of the other people I’m introduced to; it makes things totally awkward when one or another of them asks me something at the meeting. Any secrets for remembering names?

Answer: I’ve encountered the same problem — it’s an embarrassing situation that I finally solved by exchanging business cards with each participant as we’re being introduced prior to the start of the meeting. I place their cards in their seating position on the left side of an open pad that I always use for note-taking. This arrangement allows me to identify each person without being obvious. I also make use of the individual email addresses on the cards to send a short follow-up message to each one thanking him or her for their participation and offering to expand on anything that was unclear or address any concerns that they may have.

Question: I feel that there’s an opportunity to expand my relationship with my client but he only views me as a basic design resource. How can I convince him to use me for other things?

Answer: Your problem is actually a pretty common one. The good news is, your client has obviously developed a comfort level with you that makes you a “first call” resource for the design work he counts on you for. The bad news is, that perception has effectively blocked him from thinking about you for any assignments outside of that box. You don’t say what other areas you’d like to break into, but I’m guessing that corresponding services such as advertising, web development, trade show displays, or the like may be what you’re thinking of.

Before approaching him, rule one is to make certain that, should he give you the opportunity you’re seeking, you’ll be able to handle the new business. Delivering work that’s below the professional standards he has come to expect from you will likely spell the end of your relationship. Obviously, the most convincing demonstration of your abilities in this new area would be to present similar work you’ve done for other clients. Failing that, I’d recommend contacting professionals who do have a track record in that area and get them onboard as “strategic partners;” consultants who can be tapped if and when you land a new-area assignment. As an independent “team member” of your firm, they should have no issue providing you with examples of assignments that they’ve completed to include in your new business pitch. And because of this person’s practical expertise, let me suggest that you have them accompany you in pitching this new business in order to reinforce your “new” capabilities. I’ve built a network of ancillary professionals who’s bios I include along with mine when I pitch prospects needing the services that they provide.
I hope this helps.