You look around the room and can’t quite work out what emotion it is you are supposed to be feeling. It’s all a bit surreal.
It’s possibly one of the surrealist’s days in my career.
And if 15 years ago someone had said;
“Mandie you will have the confidence to speak to 200+ business owners” – I would have laughed. “Me? Never I can’t even sit in a coffee shop on my own! Let alone publicly speak” (Yes I used to lack confidence, was mega shy and hated public speaking.)
“Mandie you will be an international author with clients on every continent, have so many awards you can’t keep up with them all, feature on national TV and even visit 10 Downing Street for your work” I’d have added “For what? I’m no one special.” I honestly never thought I’d achieve anything much. Things just kind of landed at my feet and I’d run with them. So looking around that room I did think “How?”
How did that nervous, shy, un-confident, scared little mouse do all that!
I want to share some of the how and I look forward to hearing what it helps you achieve;
Mandie from 15 years ago that struggled to walk into a networking event believed;
So dump the false version of you and the things that aren’t working. Be honest and get help.
Next find your natural skills – yes you have plenty.
My career started in insurance and swiftly moved into the car industry. Looking after customers whose week has been wrecked because their car has been in a car accident. And how are they going to get anywhere with no car? We were in rural Suffolk so to see a bus was a novelty and no car, meant no shopping, no getting the kids to school, no work – life stopped. You can imagine how it could feel?
We were dealing with heavily stressed people every day. Car parts were the other side of the world instead of on my customers car and even when the sun was shining, and no cars were falling off the roads into ditches (No accidents equalled no work but still 25 salaries to pay!) I could still fill a garage with enough work for 25 employees. I’d (stupidly) assumed that if I could do that in the car industry I’d easily migrate those skills to my coaching practice.
How wrong could I have been?
But different to many who find themselves in that situation – I didn’t keep doing the same things.
Within a year of setting up my business I was making money;
And the first thing that changed was my confidence.
I always say you can have the best products and services in the world. The best marketing strategy, the most gorgeous perfect brand, and the best team but if you lack confidence personally you will still damage your results. Scary right?
Build your confidence – Yes, I worked with a coach. Yes, I found a mentor and yes, I made sure I networked with the right people – that is so critical for lasting success and research agrees with me (Or vice a versa) that especially for women to reach the top you have got to get out there – network and work that network too – that means asking for business and asking the right questions. Back to needing confidence right
Never stop learning. I met someone this week who told me they’d learnt all they needed to be the best version of them they could be. I hadn’t meant to (I’d meant to just think it!) but I’d spurted out “Seriously? In your 40’s you feel you can learn nothing more about yourself or need to do anything else to stay the best version of you?”
I couldn’t help myself, but I added “I’m in my 40’s too and the more I know the more I feel I need to learn.”
Learning about yourself is not something done once and forgot about – is there anything in life that is?
The more you build your emotional intelligence and understand the science of being you the more success you will have. The more resilience you will have and your ability to cope with anything (without being a stressed out trapped on a hamster wheel burnt out husk of a human) will soar.
I still have to use my own coaching strategies on myself to ensure this doesn’t get to me. Because I’m a doer.
If something is not working.
I fix it.
I look for solutions.
I bore easily and so if it is not working I want answers fast. (And yes, I’m inpatient too!) So it’s been hard for me to learn that while you need to build a brand, reputation and get the sales in I also need to accept that what is best for me and my business is coming. I can experience stress if things aren’t happening fast enough. The perfect example is that time and time again while sat on the sofa watching a box set an opportunity has landed on my lap that has added a whole new arm to my business – “Do you offer training for the NHS Mandie?” I didn’t but I do now!
How did that happen? – they just phoned me out of the blue. (They’d met me somewhere (they thought) or heard about me somewhere. See the importance of awesome evergreen marketing? (Evergreen means it’s always working for you and always visible). You can see how you need to get your marketing working well and talking powerfully to the right people right?
“Hi Mandie do you offer corporate away day coaching for large groups?” Well I didn’t, but I do now! Again think about who I was talking to and what I was saying and in what context that it resonated so strongly that they got in touch in the first place. How does your brand and communications need to alter accordingly?
Both of these (and so many more just landed in my lap when I was least expecting them. Okay so I do have a set of goals every year and they say things like:
And I do create;
As I would with clients – but I still have to sit back and say “It’s going to happen Mand, get back to your boxset/life/day.
In the automotive industry I loved the high octane, 50 phone calls an hour, so many faxes (do you remember those?) that they scrolled across the office floor. Floods, Storms, Blizzards – we were there. Even heavily pregnant I still logistically ensured we collected over 100 cars in less than 18 hours with only 3 recovery vehicles from across 3 counties when the worst storms to hit Europe in over a decade caused chaos and cost people their lives (I even found time to increase the insurance to cover the insane value of the vehicles on premises that night!) however I learnt the hard way that I’m not a god, a super hero or a robot. And by saying yes to everyone and everything it was taking its toll. Learning to become a person that says no to what is not right for me, my family or friends, my goals, my business or even my health has had a positive dramatic effect on every aspectf of my life. And that needs…
To know when to listen and when to ignore.
Years ago I was told by someone that I couldn’t be a successful business woman because I was too happy. That comment haunted me for ages and really impacted on my business as I tried to mould myself into their definition of success. It’s all very well to know what you want but you have to learn to ignore people to get it….and know when to listen to people. This mission statement I still live by to this day and I frequently ask clients, BWN business men and women and even the coordinators if we are still getting it right. Know when to trust that gut instinct of yours (there’s a lot of science behind what is actually there, and it’s not just guess work!) trust it.
And know when to make changes.
Utlimately my success is only down to the quality of the people I hang out with so I finish by saying check your network helps you do everyting I suggest in this article. And if they don’t you can guess what I suggest you do!
I get asked this question a lot by business owners; if I should be adding people automatically to my database. Especially since I tell people that your aim is to grow your data base and turn those lovely contacts into happy customers using the Marketing Production Line. Down load your copy of this here – How to get more customers and increase sales
So if you are networking or attending an expo, what’s the big deal of adding all of those lovely contact details on that shiny business cards mountain in your office to your data base? Here is one such enquiry I recently received:
I’m new to networking and not sure if there’s an etiquette involved.
I received an email with the subject line “Lovely to meet you”. The email, among a few other things, informed me, I had been added to their list and would be contacted 1-2 times a week.
I was surprised, as I didn’t “meet” this person at the event, or even speak with them, and didn’t give them my details to add to a list (which I didn’t think was allowed generally anyway).
I just wanted to check as I wasn’t sure if that is just how networking is, as clearly I can just unsubscribe, but this was all unsolicited and I was a bit undecided what I thought about that.
If it’s all just part of the networking scene, I’m just a bit of a newbie! But I’m not sure I would send people emails claiming to have met them and sending them stuff they hadn’t asked for. But that may just be me, which is why I wanted to check!
Okay so let’s look at the pro’s and con’s of this approach.
Firstly the pros from the viewpoint of the proactive business owner sending the email;
However, what does it say about you and your business that you assumed that the other party would want to buy from you. In theory I have 100’s of people I could add to my mailing list every month and yet I don’t.
I was once advised that business to business by law we are allowed to add each other to our mailing list as long as they are able to “unsubscribe” it is only business to consumer that is not allowed to do this. (I would like to add that I recommend seeking the advice of the experts here. Angela Lock from the FSB Essex would be a good place to start since they have free legal services as part of their membership.) Regardless of whether I can or can not I don’t and the reason why?
Because I have absolute respect for how busy you are. I make no assumptions of what you want, need or wish to achieve. Or on whom you wish to work with. For some people I personify Marmite, I am so cringe worthy they are backing out of the room as if someone is screeching talons down a chalkboard, however for those few there are thousands that love working with me. So I’m happy. And yet I still don’t add anyone to mine or The Business Woman’s Network databases. I do this for a number of reasons.
I think on top of this there are a couple of other cool lessons to be learnt;
And as I published this blog article the business owner in question said that they unsubscribed because it just didn’t work for them. So I think it kind of speaks of volumes right?
Yes you may be allowed business to business to add people to your data base as long as you give them the option to opt out however does it really help build good relationships? Does it really help boost sales?
To add on not to add?
I have my answer. Do you have yours?
At a networking event the other day I got talking to a rather fabulous business woman and the conversation went like this;
Mrs Fab “So and So is coming today.”
Me “Oh, really. I’ve not seen her in years. I must ask her how business is. Mrs So and So does this and this and is very unique in that.”
Mrs Fab “She doesn’t do this and this, she does that and that.”
Me “No I’m sure she does this and this. She was on the radio talking about it.”
Mrs Fab “She definitely does that and that I know because I was talking to her yesterday!”
Leaving me flabbergasted that I had Mrs So and So labelled so wrong and so for years had been under the illusion she did this and this. Turns out she did do an aspect of what I had thought she did for a living but because I had not chatted to her since, I didn’t know about the vast array of other things her unique company did. Which meant that I couldn’t possibly have been out there being a good networker for her.
The moral of this story. If you don’t network regularly what illusions are being created about what you do?
Turns out if I had known truly what Mrs So and So did for a living I could have put work to her at least twice in the last few years, as I couldn’t find anyone on the planet that does what Mrs So and So does.
Assumptions get made all the time in networking. And here is what assumptions do for your networking success:
Not good right?
So how do you stop networking assumptions from happening?
Allow other networkers to learn what they want to learn about what you do. NOT what you THINK they need to know.
Reinforce your networking with good social media networking. That means your message is the same where ever anyone goes. So that they really feel like they can connect with you. (Not repeating the same stuff I hasten to add.)
If you don’t understand what someone does, ask questions. How can you be a successful networker for your new contact if you don’t understand the nature of their profession?
Be consistent with your action.
And love it, because let’s be honest networking is just so good for business!