Author Archives: Jackie Fitzgerald

New Year, New You: How to make New Year’s resolutions that work

 

New Year, New You: How to make New Year’s resolutions that work

So, we’re a few days into the New Year. How many resolutions did you make? And how many have you stuck to?

We all make resolutions and most of us break them within a few days. I used to do it every year. I would decide, say, that I wouldn’t drink for the whole of January but the first time I was offered a G&T, I would take it without even thinking. Why is that? I got so fed up with being in that situation that I looked into why it all goes wrong and in this post, I’ll give you some ideas about what you can do to make it more likely you’ll stick to your resolutions and achieve your goals. This doesn’t just apply to New Year’s resolutions by the way, it is also a great framework to use in any planning or goalsetting exercise.

First let’s look at the process. How many people really think about what their resolutions will be? Most of us make them at 12.05, once we’ve sung Auld Lang Syne, been grabbed and snogged by people we would rather not have been grabbed and snogged by, and are, ahem, well refreshed. We don’t really think about it, it’s an off the top of the head answer, a vague ‘must do better’. The fact it’s off the top of our heads indicates it’s something that does matter to us but because we haven’t really thought about we haven’t fully bought into it, we’re not committed. And that’s the first mistake.

We all want to be better, so must of our resolutions are around improvement in one way or another – lose weight, stop smoking, don’t drink so much and so on. Our second mistake is that many resolutions are very negative: stop, don’t, lose. And that puts us in the wrong frame of mind before we even start. I know we’re not naughty children any more but what’s a common reaction when someone tells us not to do something? Yes, it’s hostility, anger and, more often than not, increased desire to go off and do it.

So, a couple of years ago, I did 2 things. I really thought about what my resolutions should be, calmly, rationally and in advance and then I flipped them. At that time my main resolution was to have more self discipline, the specifics of which were: get up at 7 and start work promptly by 9. Eat those frogs first thing, get them out of the way. Set aside an hour a day to read and study between 5 and 6pm. So, I used words that framed everything I wanted to do in a positive way: have, do, start, read, eat;

The next step was to write them down. There’s lots of evidence that people with written goals have more success than those without. The famous Harvard study may well be an urban myth, and the statement that 3% of the population have written goals but they earn more than the other 97% put together may well be apocryphal but other studies have been carried out that bear out the general theory. In 2006 USA Today surveyed a number of people who had made New Year’s resolutions and found that of those who had not written down the resolution, just 4% had followed them through. Of those who had written them down, 44% had followed them through: a much better success rate.

Why does writing things down increase the probability of success? Because writing a is a psycho neuro motor activity – as you’re writing you’re being forced to think and to concentrate on what’s important to you. And when you write down a goal you’re impressing it into your subconscious, which then gets to work on it without you even realizing it. It also implies a level of commitment and buy-in that isn’t always there when things are just spoken, there is often so much more power in the written word.

So how should you capture your goals?

I recently came across MMM as an alternative to SMART goals, and I really like it: goals should be measurable, manageable and motivational.

So, if your goal is to slim:

Measurable: How many pounds will I shed, and by when? This is an objective check and deadline.

Manageable: It has to be realistic but challenging – you won’t lose 10 stone in 2 months, but you can lose 1 and keep the weight off.

Motivational: The goals need to excite you, motivate you so that you want to achieve them. I want to be a size 12 by Easter so that I can buy and look good in that lovely dress I saw / feel great / improve my health.

In short:

Goals, and resolutions, should be:

  1. Well considered
  2. Written
  3. MMM

When you’ve settled on your resolutions or goals, it can be a good idea to write yourself a letter and give it to a trusted friend to post to you in 3 months’ time. In the letter state your goals, congratulate yourself on achieving them, and say what your reward would be. You’ll probably forget about it, but in 3 months’ time you’ll be surprised when a letter in your own handwriting lands on the doormat and be stunned to see that you have achieved all of the goals you set down.

And remember that this can be applied at any stage in the year – we don’t just set goals and targets on 1 January, there are other natural break points and times for reviewing progress during the year and we should be frequently assessing and adjusting where we are and where we’re going.

Why not give it a try?

 

 

Just getting on with it can make you more confident

 

 

aidan-turnerIn recent interviews Poldark star Aidan Turner has talked about blagging his way into the role by telling casting directors he could ride a horse.  He couldn’t really, but once he had secured the part he gave it a go.  I heard him telling the same entertaining story to Sara Cox, relishing the tale and amused by his own cheek.  My favourite part of the interview was when he said ‘I nailed it. I just pretended to be good and it turned into a real thing’.

You can hear what he said here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p046lgs3

By contrast, in the past few weeks I have spoken to at least five intelligent, competent, fabulous women, all of whom did not go for a promotion, take on new responsibilities or leave their comfort zone because they ‘didn’t feel ready’.  When I asked when they would feel ready the answer was always ‘in a couple of years’.  So the next question has to be ‘What will have changed in two years?’.  That’s a question that they usually can’t answer.  Why?  Because nothing will have changed in their thinking.  No matter what happens they probably still won’t feel ready in 2 years’ time.

The truth is, if we waited until we felt ready there is very little we would achieve.  Sometimes you just have to ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen*, take a deep breath and dive right in.

Getting over yourself and getting on with it is one of my favourite ways of boosting confidence. Men, like Aidan, do it all the time.  If we act confident, we are confident; we become what we think.

Confidence is something many women struggle with.  On 24th September 2016 I’ll be running a Woman flyingworkshop designed to help you understand what affects your own confidence (it’s different for everyone) and then find ways of stopping your self-doubt from getting in your way.  For more info and to book click here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/be-more-confident-registration-25923863975

And whatever you do, be more like Aidan, but please keep your shirt on!

*You could make a mistake, you might feel a bit daft, maybe even make a bit of a fool of yourself but people will respect you for having a go.  And if whatever you’re trying doesn’t go quite as well as you would have liked, you will still have had a wonderful experience that you can learn from, that will help you do even better next time and be more confident about trying

6 things you can do to be taken seriously at work

6 things you can do to be taken seriously at work

enjoying_a_meetingIn my last blog I shared, with her permission, extracts from a coaching conversation with Rachel, a client who doesn’t feel that she’s always taken seriously enough at work. In comparing her own behaviour and attitude with those of Sally, a colleague just a couple of years older who has the credibility Rachel wants, she realised that she had a problem with boundaries, which meant that she was sometimes behaving inappropriately and unprofessionally at work. Having identified the issue Rachel was halfway to solving the problem: she practised thinking before she spoke, catching herself if she was about to be indiscreet about her private life and quickly got into a pattern of more professional behaviour at work. In later sessions we started to look what else Sally, and other senior women Rachel respected, did to earn the respect of their colleagues. Over a few sessions Rachel came up with this list of six things you can do to be taken more seriously at work (shared with her permission):

  • Be professional. In other words turn up on time; do what you tell people you’re going to do; honour your commitments, under-promise and over-deliver.
  • Keep developing your knowledge. ‘Not just the formal stuff, or doing the minimum you have to do for CPD (continuous professional development). Follow industry news, learn about the economy, find out what your clients are interested in. Understand what matters to them and make sure you can talk to them knowledgably.’
  • Take yourself seriously and act like you should be taken seriously in turn. ‘Which isn’t to say that Sally doesn’t have a sense of humour,’ said Rachel, ‘she does, she’s a really good laugh. But she’s not out for a laugh at all costs’ ‘So she uses humour in the right way?’ ‘Yes, she’ll use it to get things moving or defuse difficult situations or even emphasise a point. But it’s never cruel or smutty or irrelevant.’
  • Speak up in meetings, show that you have a good contribution to make. ‘She’ll challenge people, but in a really nice way. It doesn’t come across as point-scoring, she’s just getting them to think’.
  • Don’t get emotional in public: no tears or tantrums. ‘I burst into tears once and everyone treated me weirdly for ages afterwards. At my last appraisal I was told I’m too emotional and need to get it under control. It’s not just me though, one of the guys in the office got really angry about something and threw his phone at the wall, smashed it to bits. Now people avoid him, they won’t ask him to do anything in case he loses his temper.’

What do you think of Rachel’s list? What would you add to it?

* All names have been changed. This story has been told with the permission of ‘Rachel’.

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Why your lifestyle can be affecting your credibility at work

Why your lifestyle can be affecting your credibility at work

‘Nobody ever takes me seriously’ complained Rachel*. ‘I’m as qualified as they are and I’m doing a good job with clients but they treat me like the office junior. I’m really fed up with it.

‘Why don’t they take you seriously?’Messing_about_at_work

‘Because I’m a girl and the youngest person there. They’re all just sexist old farts.’

‘Well, Sally’s only a couple of years older than you. Do they take her seriously?’

‘Yes, but she’s different.’

‘Why?’

‘I don’t know, she just is.’

I decided to park Rachel’s unflattering description of her colleagues for now and instead asked her to tell me more about Sally, how she behaves, what she says and the image she projects at work. Gradually we started to unpick why Sally is different from Rachel and why people take her seriously. Here’s the first thing Rachel identified:

‘She never crawls in to work, late, complaining about her hangovers.’

‘Do you?’

‘Sometimes.’ Rachel paused. ‘Most weeks, to be honest. I need to stop that. I need to keep my personal life to myself.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘I talk a lot about what’s going at home, my boyfriend, my flatmates and what I’ve been doing with my friends.’

‘Why is that a problem?’

‘I do it too much.’ Rachel paused again. ‘It looks like I care more about what’s happening outside work. And nobody at work needs to know that I had a row with Jason, or drank too much on Saturday. It’s none of their business. It makes me look bad. I need to focus on work stuff at work and leave what’s happening at home behind me when I get to the office’

‘It sounds like you don’t always behave appropriately then’.

‘I had never thought of it like that, I was just having a laugh. But laughs at work and laughs outside are different. You can enjoy your job, but having a laugh with your colleagues isn’t the same as what you do and say when you’re having a laugh with your friends. I had never thought of that before. It’s no wonder they don’t take me seriously. They think I’m a party animal who lives in a soap opera.’ Rachel slumped back in her chair, her hands over her face. I gave her a minute or two to reflect. When she was ready I resumed the coaching session.

‘OK, so it sounds like you’re blurring the boundaries between home and work a bit too much. Is that fair?’

‘Definitely. I forget where I am sometimes. I need to think more about what’s appropriate. Sally never talks about her social life. Ever. If she’s out with people from work she doesn’t get drunk, or gossip, or rehash things the next day. She has a good time, she’s a good laugh, but she doesn’t bring it in to work. That’s one of the things I’m doing wrong. I feel really embarrassed. I think I need to change a lot.’

It’s easy to blame others for not taking you seriously but, as always, you need to look at yourself and your own behaviour first. In your 20’s you often socialise with colleagues and that can make it hard to adopt a more professional persona when you’re back in the office. It can also be difficult to identify and maintain clear boundaries between your social life and your work life and, as with Rachel, lack of boundaries may be one of the things that undermine your credibility.

We’ll look at more factors that influence how seriously you will be taken in my next blog. You may alos want to look at recent blogs on becoming a manager: newly-promoted-and-its-all-got-weird-heres-some-help and developing your confidence as a leader: modesty-and-confidence. In the meantime, if you recognise yourself in Rachel and want to clarify your own boundaries click on the link below for a free coaching session, on me.

* All names have been changed. This story has been told with the permission of ‘Rachel’.

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Can I just say? How to be heard at meetings

Can I just say? How to be heard at meetings

Have you ever sat in a meeting, really wanting to contribute in some way but been unable to get a word in?  Have you ever left a meeting running the ‘could have, would have, should haves’ of everything you didn’t say through your mind?  I think we’ve all been there.  There are lots of different reasons why you may not be able to speak up but often it’s because you just don’t know how to get your point across.  If that’s you, read on for my 9 tips for getting your voice heard in meetings.

1. Think about why you’re at the meeting.  Who invited you and why do they want you there?  If you’re not sure, ask.  Your boss might want you to just observe and learn, in which case you probably won’t be expected to say much.  However she might want you there to raise your profile and get more experience or because you’re the company expert on one of the agenda items.  Each of these possibilities will require different behaviour from you.

Bored_people_at_a_meeting2. Prepare well.  Check the agenda, find out what the main discussion topics will be.  Read the briefing papers and be ready to contribute to those items relating to your area of expertise or experience.  Jot down some bullet points and questions for each agenda item so you don’t forget what you wanted to raise during the meeting.

3. It can be tempting to be useful and offer take the minutes or write things up on the whiteboard, especially if you’re a woman or the youngest person in the room. Unless that’s what you’re there to do (see #1) avoid the temptation if you can.  A head-hunter once told me that acting as scribe can count against you at an assessment centre unless you also fully take part in the day’s activities.  Most scribes don’t.  After all, if you’re focussing on getting the notes, minutes or actions right it doesn’t leave a lot of time for contributing to the meeting.

4. Get in early and say something relevant and interesting as soon as you can, even if it’s asking a question.  It will take the pressure off you and you’ll settle in to the rhythm of the meeting more quickly.

5. When you do have the floor speak calmly, clearly and get to the point as quickly as you can.

6. If someone interrupts you unreasonably, pause and ask if you can just finish the point you were making.

7. Never start a sentence with an apology, even if it’s a figure of speech. ‘Sorry, can I just say….?’ may put you on the back foot.  Why preface your point at all?

8. Raise your hand slightly, or lift your pen a little to signal to the chair that you would like to speak.

9. If they’re moving on before you’ve had your say raise your hand or lean forward and ask the chair if you can make a final point before that agenda item is closed. If you choose do this make sure that your intervention is good and valuable and that you’re not going over old ground or raising issues that have already been addressed.

These are the things that have worked for me and my clients but I would love to hear your tips – please share them below.

Taking part in meetings can be tricky, as can running them (there’ll be a blog soon on chairing meetings). They can be stressful, especially if you’re new in your role or not very confident. If you find meeting etiquette and participation difficult why not have a free coaching session on us? Just click on the link below If that’s you:

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Feeling meh? 5 tips for getting the career you want

Feeling meh? 5 tips for getting the career you want

I had a really good job – interesting work, well paid, lots of travel.  It ticked all of the boxes.  One day I woke up and wondered what I was doing and how I got to this point.  I felt dissatisfied, unfulfilled and started to wonder if this was all there is.  Really?  This is it?  Blimey.  Cue implosion and rapid change of direction. Many of us drift through our careers and go from job to job without really thinking about where we want to get to or what we want out of life.  Life can be something that just happens to you and you get on with it, and often it’s fine.  But what if you take control and make things happen?  Read on for my 5 tips on getting the career or business you want.

1. Decide what you want.  A few lucky people know what they want to be when they grow up from an early age and go off and do it; most of us flit from idea to idea.  At various stages in my life I would have answered the ‘what do you want to be?’ question with: nun, doctor, choreographer, fashion designer, interpreter at the UN and war correspondent.  All of which would have been totally unsuitable (except perhaps interpreter).  My sister on the other hand always said ‘nurse’ and that’s what she became as soon as she could.  WE are much more successful when we play to our strengths and interests.  So think about what you want – not your parents, friends, colleagues or teachers.  You.  And go and do it.

changing_direction_choosing_a_path2. Find out how to become whatever you want to be.  What training or qualifications do you need?  What sort of life and work experience must you have?  Who should be in your network?  How will you get to know with the people who should be in your network?  What skills should you be developing?  What funding and support is available?  How closely do your current skills and experience match the requirements of your dream job.  Then go and do all of them.

3. Get a really good mentor, someone who understands you and where you want to get to and can help you with support, encouragement and really good advice.  If you’re in a firm or company this may well be someone who is a just bit older or more experienced than you and you may just be assigned to someone. That’s OK but if you can, choose mentors who will challenge you and be really honest with you. Their feedback may hurt temporarily but understanding and acting on your shortcomings will only help you make progress.  The best mentors I ever had could be brutal sometimes but they were telling me things for the right reasons and their insights were always invaluable (thanks guys!).

4. Not everyone can become a board director or partner or the next Richard Branson.  If, for some reason, you can’t quite get to where you want to be try and find a way to get as close to it as you can.  I recently worked with a client who wanted to be an opera singer but health problems meant that she wasn’t able to perform professionally.  She carved out a very successful career in arts administration, which kept her involved in professional opera and musical theatre, and she enjoys taking part in amateur productions as well as teaching singing.  No, she’s not on stage at the Royal Opera House but she’s living and working in a world she loves.

5. It’s never too late to change direction.  There’s also never a good time to change direction.  If that’s what you really want to do just go and do it.  (Change can be very unsettling, download my tips on coaching with change here http://www.alchemybusinesscoaching.biz/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Coping-with-change.pdf

I don’t regret any of the choices I made in my career but I do sometimes wish I had got to some places sooner.  Once I thought about what I really wanted, worked out how to get there and took the appropriate action everything clicked into place.  I would love to hear about your experiences so please share your thoughts, ideas and insights.  Or if you’ve got that ‘meh’ feeling about your career or business why not have a coaching session on me?

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The one key skill every leader needs

The one key skill every leader needs

Jane came in to my office looking troubled. ‘I think I’m OK as a manager but how do I become a leader?’ she asked. ‘I’ve just had my appraisal and I’ve been told I need to work on my leadership skills’. I’ll cover dodgy appraisals in a later blog, this one is all about which leadership skill I think you need to start developing now.

Although many of my clients worry about their leadership skills (see here for the differences between leadership and management  they sometimes struggle to describe a good leader to me.  I don’t think that’s because there’s a lack of good leaders, rather it’s because leadership is nebulous – it’s hard to describe and get hold of but you definitely know good (and bad) leadership when you see or experience it.  So I often start by getting clients to think about leaders they admire at work, in sport, politics or life.  What do they say and do, how do they act? Why are they good leaders?  It’s an unscientific approach, sure, but the answers my clients give are pretty consistent, in fact Zenger and Folkman’s list in this inc.com article by Peter Economy contains just about all of the attributes of great leaders my clients have identified over the last 5 years: http://www.inc.com/peter-economy/top-10-skills-every-great-leader-needs-to-succeed.html

So where do you start?  Well the good news is that most people are on track already – they are honest and have integrity (#2 on the list).  Most people also display professional and technical expertise, if they didn’t they would not be on the leadership track (#7).  Communication skills (#5 ) and relationship building ability (#6) are vital, that goes without saying and have been the subject of many of my previous blogs, like the last one.

There is one skill I wished I had developed earlier and worked hard on though. Now I see so many business owners, managers and executives struggling with the same problem: displaying a strategic perspective (#8). According to Economy ‘Great leaders have a long-term vision of the future, and they avoid getting bogged down in the here and now. While they can be tactical when necessary, they maintain the strategic outlook necessary to guide their businesses to the best future possible.’

I think this nails it.  Managers tend to focus on the here and now, ‘they do the doing’ as one of my clients calls it; leaders focus more on the future.  Letting go of the day to day, delegating, spending time on activities with a longer-term benefit and thinking ahead are all vital skills for any leader but ones that we seldom develop organically.  We’re all too busy doing the doing.

Executive_thinking_strategicallyMoving on in your career can change what we define as doing however.  I was really bored when I was first made MD, all the stuff I used to do was getting done by my highly competent team.  What happened?  Yes, I refused to let go, micromanaged and generally interfered in whatever the team was doing.  I mentioned this to a former boss who’s still a mentor of mine. He shook his head, appalled, and said ‘But that’s not your job any more, your job is to think now’. That comment completely changed my outlook. Getting paid to think? Wow! That’s what leaders do. So if you want to develop your leadership skills try cuttingdown on the doing and start thinking.

Source: Peter Economy, ‘Top Ten Skills Every Great Leader Needs to Succeed’ ,http://www.inc.com/, 29 December 2014

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Getting things done: 8 rules for effective delegation

Getting things done: 8 rules for effective delegation

Many years ago I shared an assistant with three of the other managers in the department. Sally was enthusiastic and very pleasant but she made a lot of mistakes (and I mean a lot). Because of the mistakes I tended not to give her anything too complicated to do, it was quicker and easier just to get on and do it myself. It meant I had more to do but at least things got done the way I wanted them done and to my standards. The fact that I had to stay late sometimes and do Sally’s job for her used to really annoy me but it was easier to say nothing. One day I asked Sally to do something and as I walked away I heard her tell a colleague that she hated working for me, I asked her to do nothing but ‘crap’, I never gave her anything interesting to work on and was never clear about what I needed or when I needed it. She wondered how she was supposed to learn anything working for me. I was furious! I didn’t give her stuff to do because she messed it up! And of course I was clear about what I needed and when. Wasn’t I? I thought I was a good manager but overhearing Sally’s comments shocked but ultmately helped me (although I would have preferred it if she had spoken to me directly of course). The fact is that many of us find delegating really, really tricky. If that includes you here are my 8 rules for effective delegation:

1. Be direct and clear about what you want people to do.

2. Know the answers to any questions they might ask before you go to them with the task. Questions might include: Why do you want it doing? By when? To what standard? Who’s it for? What’s it for? What happens if I get it wrong? Is it a standalone task or part of something bigger? What’s the context or background? What are the stages I have to go through with it? Who else should I involve? If they don’t ask relevant questions themselves make sure that you cover the answers in your briefing anyway.

3. If you want things doing in a particular way, style or sequence tell them how you want it doing and explain why you want it doing that way.

4. Accept that they’re unlikely to do it exactly the way you would do it. Does that matter? If the end result is OK, how important is the way they got there? If how they do it does matter tell them, perhaps even provide a checklist, flowchart or crib-sheet they can follow.Lady_using_a_checklist

Lady_using_a_checklist5. Provide the right resources to do the job well. This might be time, it might be information or equipment or tools or money. It might be additional training or help, or an introduction to someone who can help in some way.

6. Use good management. Let them get on with it but check in to see how things are going. Never, ever micro-manage or hover. Ask for updates and feedback, see if they need any help, guidance or support but be sure to use open questions here. Examples might be:

  • What are you finding hard or challenging?
  • What do you need?
  • How can I help you?
  • What can I do to support you?

7. Give your team work that is challenging but not totally beyond their capabilities and experience.

8. Remember that time spent training someone is never wasted: you’re developing a team member and freeing up your time in the end.

If delegation is something you find difficult why not have a coaching session on us to find out why you’re struggling and look at what you can do about it?

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Alchemy A-Z of being in business: N is for networking

Alchemy A-Z of being in business: N is for networking

I got to my first ever networking session early and headed to the bar. I really didn’t want to be there but I was the boss so it was expected of me. As the barman made my drink someone marched up, shook my hand and introduced himself.  I froze. I didn’t want to talk to this guy, I didn’t know him and certainly didn’t like the look of him so I grabbed my drink and, while he was placing his order, headed off to the opposite side of the room where I could see someone I knew.

The thing is, I wasn’t at a singles night; it didn’t matter whether I liked the look of people or not. I was there to represent my company and make new business contacts, not chat to old ones.  I missed a big opportunity because the guy turned out to be head of procurement at a target client and I never got the chance to talk to him informally again. I was rude to him and disrespectful and he never did become a customer.

That was my first experience of ‘proper’ networking. Like many people I really didn’t enjoy it at first but the good news is that networking is a skill you can develop; it really does get easier and more enjoyable with practice.  I would go so far as to say that if you’re in business networking is something you simply must learn how to do. It’s a great way of getting yourself and what you do known in the local business community but it can help you do so much more: make new contacts, find new clients and opportunities, develop relationships with trusted suppliers and advisers, find people who can support you and even make friends. Here are my top tips for successful networking:

exchanging_cards1. Choose the networking event wisely. If you’re not at your best first thing in the morning try a lunchtime or evening meeting rather than an early breakfast. Next, look at the type of people who go along. Free events are often busy but they tend to attract micro businesses, freelancers and sole traders who may not need or want your services.  If they’re not the right sort of customers and clients for you then look for a different event.

2. Think about what will work best for you. Regular meetings of a small group will help you really get to know your fellow members and build great relationships but they can take up a lot of time. Formal meetings with a commitment to give referrals can really get you moving and bring discipline to your networking although you may find the pressure to identify opportunities for other members a bit too much.  Informal, large events can be fun and energizing but also a bit random, sometimes they’re just too big.  Women new to running their own businesses may find all-female meetings good for building confidence and keeping motivation high.

3.  Make sure you have a great elevator pitch or 60 seconds speech: a short description of what you do and the benefits to your clients. Tell a story, be entertaining but please don’t bang on about how long you’ve been in business, get very technical or try to cram in everything you do. The point of the elevator pitch is to pique interest and lead to a longer conversation, you’re not selling anything at this stage. Make sure you keep it short, always stay within the allotted time. Practice and time new pitches.

4. Go into it with a positive attitude. If you think an event will be rubbish and a waste of time you’ll be absolutely right.

5. Talk to, not at, people. A networking event can be the start of a mutually beneficial relationship but there’s a long way to go before you get to that point. So chat to people, find out about them, have a conversation, start to build that relationship. If you bombard them with all there is to know about you then you’ll never see them again.

6. Follow up. Soon after the meeting send an email or text saying how much you enjoyed chatting and maybe suggest a coffee if appropriate and you want to find out more about them. Connect on LinkedIn with a personalized message reminding them where and when you met. Don’t send them all your promotional material unless they’ve specifically asked for it.

7. Learn from the experience. After a networking event think about what went well, what you could have done differently and what you would do better next time.

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I’m a professional, not in sales. How do I do business development?

I’m a professional, not in sales. How do I do business development?

A client called me a couple of weeks ago lamenting the fact that he had just been promoted and was now expected to ‘do’ business development in addition to all of his other tasks. First off, he just didn’t know how but more fundamentally he felt as though ‘sales’ was a sleazy activity, unbecoming to a highly qualified, highly trained professional like himself.

Sleazy_salesmanInterestingly, it’s not just professionals who feel this way, the fact that you have to go out and generate leads and convert them into paying customers seems to shock many small business owners (including me when I first started out). If this is you read on for some help on how to get your head around business development.

We often have a knee jerk reaction to the words ‘sales’ or ‘salesman’. Just think about what words and images you associate with ‘sales’.  I’ll bet most of them aren’t very complimentary and a picture of someone with a shiny suit and a false smile just popped into your head.  But business development is more than just selling.  It’s really about raising awareness of you, your firm and the products and services you offer. It involves providing information to allow potential customers to evaluate options and make the right choice for them and then closing the deal but only when they have decided that they’re ready to buy from you.   It’s not about forcing someone to pay for stuff they don’t want, it’s about helping potential clients to make the right choices for them.  Hmm – doesn’t that sound much more palatable than selling?

Relationships_service_quality

The fact is that many senior positions, or running your own business, will involve building relationships with potential customers and maintaining relationships with existing and past customers. So start by changing how you think about sales: forget the selling bit and focus on developing great relationships and providing great service then, guess what, you’ll also be great at business development.

I’ll be adding some more on business development, networking, building relationships and, yes, selling over the coming weeks so watch out for future blogs, helpsheets and e-books.   In the meantime why not have a free coaching session on me?

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