Tuesday September 8, 2015
Growth always causes some kind of stress. You have to step out of your comfort zone in order to expand it. As entrepreneurs, growing our business usually means growing ourselves, which means that our own fears and shortcomings are what tend to hold our business back.
It’s my philosophy that everyone has fears, especially around face-to-face marketing and networking. But I also believe that anyone is capable of making the uncomfortable comfortable. The more we do things that make us nervous, the more our comfort zones stretch to include those activities.
Here are my tips to overcome your fears to make yourself more noticeable, attractive, and refer-able to prospective clients. That way, you can work less and convert more with the time you do put in.
Do More Face-to-Face Marketing
I’ve seen the power of face-to-face marketing too many times in my career to count. When done correctly, there’s nothing like it for making genuine, valuable connections.
But for many people, face-to-face marketing, including networking, is very stressful. If you don’t know what kinds of events to go to, if you don’t have people to go with, and if meeting strangers makes you nervous, face-to-face marketing can be a big source of anxiety.
I believe this kind of anxiety can almost always be overcome with some preparation, planning, and practice. But the best way to get better at connecting with prospective customers and partners is, quite simply, to do it more often.
Challenge yourself to attend more networking opportunities than you ordinarily would, and you’ll see how quickly discomfort melts away.
Improve Your Personal Confidence
The reason many people get frustrated with networking is, they don’t understand how to project confidence, trustworthiness, or competence. In other words, they struggle with their presence.
Presence is huge in face-to-face marketing, because you inevitably are selling yourself as much as your product or service. The fact is, people choose to buy from confident business owners, who feel at ease with themselves and who make others feel at ease.
If you think that “confidence” or “presence” are set in stone traits that can’t be learned, think again! Anyone can improve their presence and increase their confidence. All it takes is some self-awareness, lots of practice, and the willingness to be courageous and try new things.
Confidence and presence will have a big impact on your ability to convert people you meet while you’re face-to-face marketing. You’ll spend less time earning peoples’ trust, and will be more memorable to everyone you meet.
Hone Your Messaging
You can be as charming and social as the day is long, but if you don’t have clear messaging, no one will remember who you are and what you stand for.
Most people who suffer from unclear messaging are actually lacking clarity of thought. You can get huge payoffs from just taking the time to really zero in on what makes you unique, what you do better than anyone else, and what specific problems you solve.
Once you really understand what you want to convey to people you meet, you can decide how best to prepare and practice. Some people like to script out every word and practice until it rolls naturally off the tongue. Others are more improvisational, but you’d better believe they have a clear outline in their head of what they want to communicate.
Narrow Your Niche
A big part of face-to-face marketing is asking for referrals. If you’re doing it right, you’ll spend a big chunk of your time introducing people to each other. There’s an art to giving good referrals, but there’s an art to asking for them as well.
You’ve heard business owners who describe their ideal customer as, “Anyone.” Or even, “Anyone with a small business.”
This is too wide of a niche for people to grasp—it applies to pretty much everyone they know, and since they can’t refer everyone, they refer no one.
If you’re much more specific about who you’re looking for, it’s more likely that a good referral will come to mind for the other person.
Here’s an example from my own business. I started out with two niches: small business owners to participate in tradeshows, and business owners who could benefit from my coaching and seminars. Focusing on both wasn’t working for me, because my trade show niche was way too broad. When I switched to focusing on filling my seminars with people I could feed into my trade shows, I started getting much better referrals coming my way!
Overcome Fear of Follow-Up
In face-to-face networking, meeting people is just the start. The next part, follow-up, is where the real discipline comes in, and, for many people, the real fear.
It can be very difficult to follow up with people you’ve just met. Social media, texting, and email make it easier in some ways, but harder in others. It’s easier to reach out to people, but it’s also easier for people to ignore you.
Face-to-face marketers today have to have a bit of a thick skin, taking lack of response as a “not now” rather than a “never.”
One area where technology can definitely be of help is in follow-up scheduling. If follow-up (especially lukewarm calls) makes you nervous, how you schedule follow-up can make a big difference. Some people warm up to it after making a few calls, and they benefit from scheduling big blocks of calls to make all in one day. Others might want to scatter calls throughout the week, so each one is less intimidating.
Whatever scheduling methods you use, keep being persistent, fearless, and generous. It’s easier to give someone you barely know a call when you have a referral you can send their way, or if you’re inviting them to an event. If you practice follow-up, you’ll get better at it, convert a larger percentage of prospects, and have more fun doing it!
The same is true of all the uncomfortable aspects of face-to-face marketing. Simply by facing your fears, preparing, and practicing, suddenly you find those things aren’t so uncomfortable anymore.
What’s the most difficult aspect of face-to-face marketing for you? Let me know in the comments!