In my Chicago Marketing & PR Examiner post last week, we explored four of the characteristics that have been fruitful in helping me inspire confidence and trust with others in business—when I have practiced them adequately enough in my own imperfect way.
Those first four traits are a good sense of humor, taking a sincere interest in the other person, identifying and establishing common ground, and knowing—and quietly ‘owning’—your value.
In this post, let’s wrap up with the other four qualities:
Having a zest for life, for challenges, for learning something new, for meeting someone new—these are some of the overarching ways you can attract a crowd, one by one.
Keen interest heightens focus and enables you to dig deeper than most anyone else would on a given topic—or, if you are really clicking in this arena, on many topics. It’s remarkable what you can unearth, and how much trust you can inspire, when you pose questions that flow from truly hearing what the other person is saying.
Be genuinely helpful, no strings attached
Is this an area where you struggle? Then think in terms of what you can do to help others…period.
Don’t be concerned about whether they will help you. By investing your energies in this way, over time you will inspire affection and loyalty from enough people who will move mountains to support you, which often takes the form of referring potential clients.
An essential part not to be overlooked or underestimated: “over time.” Resist the natural inclination to look around for results in the early phases of this no-strings-attached practice. Instead, trust in the Law of Compensation, which Rich Dad, Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki explains in this way:
“Returns are minimal in spite of massive effort at the start, yet returns can be massive with minimal effort over time.”
Leave before they want you to go
Have you heard the one about the man who got up from his chair in the middle of a long-winded presentation and began walking out of the room?
“Excuse me, sir,” the speaker called out, interrupting his talk. “Where are you going in the middle of my presentation?”
“I need to get a haircut,” the man replied.
“Why didn’t you get it cut before coming?”
“I didn’t need it cut before.”
That speaker had failed in this important respect: he hadn’t left before his audience wanted him to go. It’s a principle with universal application, whether you are interacting one-on-one or with any number of people.
Being “on the go” communicates that the time you do invest with people must be respected and seized for maximal return. It also leaves people wanting to connect with you again—if you deem it a prudent use of your time.
This is along the same lines as knowing (and owning) the value you bring to a situation, one of the traits noted in the first of these two installments. Amway Executive Diamond Bill Hawkins, a World Wide Group (WWDB) leader, has been a mentor to many over the past 35 years in this all-important aspect of business relations.
It’s about having "posture," according to Hawkins. We are not talking about literally walking with your head up and shoulders back (although that's a good idea), but it's carrying yourself, in professional interactions, in a confident, assured way. Think about how you perceive someone ambling on a sidewalk with strong, purposeful strides, versus another person who is shuffling along with shoulders slumped.
Follow up professionally, not pushily
Related to the principle of leaving before others want you to go, this one places a premium on finesse. Whether by email, text, phone or a hand-written note, it’s simply good form to express your appreciation for having met with someone with whom you think there may be a mutual business benefit.
But this is not the time to go into the commercial version of a full-court press. Instead, communicate clearly and succinctly how you believe you could be of help to the other individual or his organization, wish him well and impart your openness to further dialogue.
A media relations analogy: in pitching story ideas to the media, I never try to “sell the story” on a phone call or even in an email news release. Of course, if a given outlet chooses to buy, based on that one contact, that’s terrific.
But what I’m pursuing is a dialogue, aided by ample evidence of newsworthiness, which could lead to a mutually beneficial result.
In conclusion, this is hardly an exhaustive, or definitive, list. It’s just a representative sampling of what has proven effective in my own career. Were you to create a list of what has worked for you, it would surely look different--subtracting a few here, adding a few there.
Also, these principles and habits didn’t occur to me overnight. However, they have proven to be reliable standbys that smooth the process of relationship-building, from the initial greeting all the way through the courtship culminating in a business collaboration of some kind.