some people try to sell their capabilities. they pitch what they can do for you or your organization, generally related to being or making something better, faster, cheaper, or more efficient than someone else. they peddle their wares, sometimes with cold calls but a lot of times with advertising. while they almost never say it, they often start their pitches off with “now that i have your attention for the next n minutes…” but the problem is they usually don’t.
they have moments, not minutes, to convince you that their capabilities are worth your investment in both time and money. they have to prove to you and other decision makers that you want to buy from them. with so many competitors, that’s difficult to do. so they lay out their pitch filled with metrics, and demos, and dozens upon dozens of superlatives before wrapping it up at the end by asking for money. “let us know how we can help you” really means, “let us know when you want to buy something.”
the alternative, however, is to sell yourself vice your capabilities. you don’t pitch what you can do to improve someone’s organization. instead, take the time to build relationships. you may be better, faster, cheaper, or more efficient than others, but you’re not selling that—you’re selling an indispensable resource: you.
when you don’t advertise and you give yourself and your abilities away for free; when you spend the time to educate people and help them solve their problems right now, without asking for payment; when you let people see your true work, not a demonstration, and give them a reason to trust in you.
that’s when you delight customers and win market share.
business lunches are not like normal lunches. Â there’s still an agenda, even if there’s no official distribution of one. Â when you meet with a client, a potential new hire, new teammates, etc. â€” you have certain things that you want to discuss, that you want to accomplish.
so why waste time ordering your food?
when you pick the restaurant, be sure to send a menu along with the meeting invite â€” and maybe even direct your guest(s) to a particular item that you’ve had before or that seems interesting to you. Â by sharing the menu ahead of time, you can spend less time thumbing through appetizers and more time on accomplishing the goals of your agenda. Â less time selling your favorite open-faced sandwich to your guest, and more time selling your organization.
there’s an art to the business lunch. Â if you can master it, your organization’s plate will always be full.
a co-worker of mine wrote a blog post recently about the “social media wave” and how it’s easy to be caught up in this tsunami of facebooks, myspaces, twitters, and more. with all the social media sites and services out there, in order to keep your head above the water you must have a strategy; you need to understand social media â€” not just use it.
i mention tracy’s post because of the discussion that it caused in her comments section. people see social media services as time-wasters. many corporations (including the united states’ military, though some restrictions have been relaxed) have even denied access on their networks to certain social media sites. unfortunately, it is a commonly held belief that these services cause more harm than good.
but do they really?
one of the questions asked in my conversation with someone was, “how does blogging help a plumber fix a leak? or how does twitter help an accountant balance the books?” i thought this question showed a great deal of ignorance about what social media is for, and what it does. i’ll take these two examples and explain further…