When I first opened my own genealogy research business a client came into my office to actually hire me. She was so excited and pleased to have found a kindred spirit with whom she could share her genealogy successes and dreams. It was energizing for both of us. That first year of business was an eye opener for me. I had no idea how completely I would be immersed into a total strangers’ family history. I also had no idea of how to keep my head above water or how to keep my own priorities sorted.
As a business owner you should remember that your genealogy client is counting on you to direct and guide them with their research project. Managing their expectations, along with their enthusiasm is your task.
When we first start out as amateur genealogists we are truly off in all directions and although that is not necessarily a good thing, it sure keeps it interesting.
Then, as time goes by we become overburdened with all the great information we have managed to discover; so overburdened in fact, that we don’t know which way is up anymore. This is exactly what will happen to you when you open your business and try to chase all the ‘rabbits’ at the same time. It just doesn’t work. Where do you start, what is most important and how do you keep up? Maybe you need some advice.
Remember what it is like to do your own family history. When it is your own personal genealogy it is difficult to take a step back and breath. It is a time for reason and logic to balance the highs and lows, and this is when you, as a professional genealogist can step in and help the amateur by adding that calming influence.
It all has to to with focus and concentration. Teach your client to learn how to answer your questions – call all subjects by their name, not by their relationship to the family for starters, i.e. – Elizabeth Green, not Aunt Lizzie. It adds a formality to the process and that is a good thing. You are a professional and therefore must receive factual accurate answers to your questions in a more formal way, to allow you to actually grasp the scenario. Keep returning to your questions, keep control of the process. Trust me, this works. It defuses the emotional energy enough to sort out this entire new family. Now you can do your job.
How does this impact on you? Remember I mentioned the energizing effect we get when around someone that is so excited? It is a fresh perspective for us as well. When you see it through their eyes your entire outlook changes. You become their support person and mentor. It also provides you with a reality check about why we “do” genealogy in the first place; for ourselves as well as for others. Just a thought to share…