People will buy from people they… know… like… and… trust.
I first heard these words many years ago when I was a struggling generalist consultant (See So You’re Considering Becoming a Consultant).
They instantly made sense to me and I used them as basis for much of my marketing activities. And now, I find myself passing these words of wisdom on to many of the people I work with, to help them better manage their careers.
Sometimes, I use them when working with someone on their interview skills – I deliberately talk about a prospective employer “buying” their services, using blunt, commercial language to help the person understand that interviews are essentially a sales process.
At other times, I evoke the words to help someone plan and implement their ongoing “Me Ltd” marketing plan (See Career Mastery: Me Ltd).
So, here listed below are my Top Ten Tips to help apply these words to your ongoing self-marketing activities.
1. Keep up with current contacts.
Set yourself a quarterly schedule of maintaining a connection with your current business contacts. You can set different levels of intimacy – some might be a coffee catch up or a quick lunch, you might meet others at industry events, or you can even communicate with contacts using LinkedIn.
2. Meet new people.
Again, you can set different levels of intimacy. At the lowest level, join a LinkedIn community in a relevant area and contribute to the online discussion. I still recommend that you organise to meet new people face to face, though, even though it can take a while to form a meaningful business relationship.
3. Convey authenticity.
Sometimes I meet people who are so reserved and closed that it makes any interaction quite draining. Authenticity is quite a current buzz word, but it has always been a powerful connecting force. When you meet someone new, reveal something of yourself beyond the bland superficialities. Express an opinion, take a risk, expand beyond the confines of the event you are both attending.
4. Be charming in the true sense of the word.
When you meet someone for the first time, it’s not a good idea to thrust your business card into their hand and talk about yourself. Get to know them. Ask open-ended questions so it doesn’t sound like you are interrogating them. Follow up on their comments to expand the conversation.
5. Have something to offer them.
Build on the topic under discussion so that they get something out of the conversation. (This comes more easily if you are well read and informed.
6. Don’t monopolise them.
It is important to gracefully end your interaction so that both you and your contact are free to circulate and talk to other people at the function.
7. Show energy and enthusiasm.
We have a responsibility in a social interaction to play our part. Focus on light and shade in your voice, change the pace of your speech and talk positively about events.
8. Convey technical competence.
In the first instance, people will “buy” you if they think that you have the technical skills they need, so make sure you sound sensible and knowledgeable. Once you have conveyed credibility in your technical domain, people are more likely to then evaluate your trustworthiness in the broader sense of the word.
9. Don’t bad mouth anyone in public.
I remember attending a conference many years ago where 500 or so of us were listening to a guest speaker. She identified a fellow staff member by name and proceeded to inform the audience of how difficult the person had been in implementing a change program. Horrified, we were all able to identify this person. Imagine how that affected our opinion of the speaker!
10. Sound like you deliver.
It is worth thinking about whether you convey an image of effectiveness, so that people can trust you to deliver. It’s not enough to be charming – fundamentally, we are in the working world to achieve things. A lot of your reputation and brand is based around this issue. Get to the point in conversations, talk about outcomes.
The city I live in, Adelaide, is often called a Big Country Town. It is famous/notorious for operating on relationships. I love it and the older I get, the more I value community and positive relationships.
When I started my consulting life, I had very few business contacts – I had very much been a head down/bum up type of person. I used the “Know Like and Trust” approach as a basis for a structured self-marketing campaign.
It was quite difficult in the beginning, but over time, I internalised this approach. Now, when I go to a business meeting of any kind, I generally know someone and am able to combine business and pleasure because of these enjoyable relationships.