“I love what I do but don’t like the marketing and selling”
When you are in the advice-giving business, particularly professionals and experts in your field, do you feel exactly like the headline? You spend your formative years in education, academia, gaining professional qualifications and learning on the job. Then after time you realise to progress, or go it alone, you have to start selling, marketing and promotion- the uncomfortable bit of the job.
Change of mindset
You will not be good at this; you will find it unnerving and awkward, dare I suggest. It’s not in your DNA. Had it been, you probably wouldn’t have chosen the career you have.
Stop thinking sell; think help. You are an expert who provides advice which adds value to your client. You are a problem-solver and painkiller. When I ask people what they get paid for I hear, ‘My time or my expertise or the advice I am giving.’ Yes that’s true but in the eyes of the client you are being paid for a problem they can’t solve for themselves. No-one goes to the doctor, the dentist, the accountant or the lawyer unless they have a complication or difficulty. So, I reiterate, you must forget selling if you’re going to become more proactive. Get out there networking and start to look for people who have a pain; you’re there to kill it.
What to do at business events
What you should never do is try to sell your company, it’s services or products; the only thing to promote is yourself and the nice person you are. Networking is simply building relationships; we have all been doing it since around the age of 2.
The three key steps to building new relationships are
1. Get to know more people by attending more events.
2. Start to get them to like you and build rapport and affinity
3. Continue past step 2 and build trust to create long-term meaning sustainable relationships
I believe the reason the word networking attracts such negative views is because many people simply don’t know how to do it effectively and more importantly politely and ethically. This can result in rude and discourteous behaviour including people being too pushy. You occasionally find people who realise you’re not the person useful to them they begin to look around the room or over your shoulder. They appear infrequently and are a small minority but move on quickly from these ignorant people.
Fear of failure
When you are giving your expert advice you are in command and control and with help from colleagues you rarely fail. But attending that business event often knowing no-one and getting involved in conversations taking you out of your comfort zone there will be the possibility of failure crossing your mind.
You won’t fail when you spend time asking good questions, listening carefully and asking the other person to explain or describe more when you don’t understand. You’re looking for those pain-killing opportunities which will only occur by listening. Having spotted a chance or prospect, to avoid wasting your time ensure you follow up in a professional manner. When you focus on the other person and show interest people start to like you quickly. You need to be genuinely interested and when the conversation comes to an end move on in a polite manner.
You only fail when you don’t turn up, you do too much talking, you are impolite or, in my view worst of all, don’t follow up when you think you could move the relationship to it’s next stage. When you ask permission to contact someone after an event and they say ‘yes’, no-one can accuse you of pestering or annoying them.
Remember most people don’t follow up for fear of rejection. Don’t take it personally; they’re not rejecting you just the offer of your help.
The author of this article is Will Kintish, leading UK authority on effective and confident networking both offline and online. If you’d like Will to speak at your conference or training workshops, call him on 0161 773 3727. Visit www.kintish.co.uk and www.linkedintraining.co.uk for further free and valuable information on all aspects of networking.