6 tips: how to connect with clients

It’s an unfortunate fact: You can give a client your best photographs ever, but if you don’t connect with them on a personal level during a session, they may not sing your praises. So what can you do to make them feel special and appreciated? Human behavior expert Vanessa Van Edwards, who gave the closing keynote at Imaging USA 2020, champions mirroring—noticing and copying aspects of a person’s verbal and body language—to make a connection with clients.

  1. Make eye contact—the right amount. Too little can make you seem tentative; too much can feel intense. Shoot for somewhere in the middle. Eye contact makes people feel they have your undivided attention.
  2. Square off your body in front of them. As you listen to your client, face them directly. This makes them feel like they are the center of your universe.
  3. Use the triple nod. According to research, nodding three times as a person is talking causes them to speak three to four times longer. Nodding also implies you agree with your client, which builds trust.
  4. Pretend your client is the most important person you’ve ever met. Then stop pretending, because maybe they are.
  5. Copy the pace and volume of their speech. A slow and steady talker will appreciate a slow and steady response, for example. 
  6. Identify a punctuator. Take notice of a gesture the client uses to drive home a point. If that’s clapping their hands, then you clap your hands.

Amanda Arnold is associate editor of Professional Photographer.