I was standing in line today at Chicago’s Midway Airport before boarding a flight. I asked the woman standing in front of me if she was traveling for business or for fun. She told me she was going to her second home in San Diego to have some fun, as she resides in Chicago. We got into a conversation about what we do for a living and I came to find out that she hires people like me, professional speakers. I said to her, “put me in your shoes for a minute. Do you get a lot of calls and emails from speakers like me who are pitching themselves to you?” Her response was, “All the time.” I could tell by the tone of her voice that she was not happy with this. She proceeded to tell me that she is inundated by speakers. She then said, “The fact that they are calling me and selling themselves tells me I probably shouldn’t hire them. Shouldn’t I be calling them?”
This makes total sense. You probably have heard the expression “people love to buy but hate to be sold to.” This woman is a classic example of this. She loves to hire great speakers but does not want them to sell her. Those of you reading this probably love to buy but hate to be sold to. Last year was the best year I’ve ever had in the speaking business, as I delivered more than 100 programs in 38 states and 4 countries. Now that I think back on it, I can’t remember any one of those events being one that I “pitched to someone who didn’t know me.” True professionals in any industry who not only become successful, but stay successful, are those who build momentum in their business, develop a reputation and continue to deliver value to their customers, putting their needs well behind those of others. What happens very quickly is their reputation works harder and smarter than their own direct efforts. Think about this. Is your reputation and the word of others working harder and smarter than your own direct efforts? Is the activity of others producing more business than you are on your own? If the answer is not a resounding yes to both these questions, something is out of alignment. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be proactive. On the contrary, if you’re not proactive in your business, it will die quickly. Rather, the issue is how are you being proactive? What are you proactively telling people, sending people and what are you delivering to people proactively? It is is all about you and you’re littering the earth with blind emails and brochures that nobody wants, your reputation will not work for you, but rather against you.
As 2015 rolls forward, make a dedicated commitment to reestablishing yourself as a true professional by proactively meeting new people and creating business activity that truly puts the need of others first. Deliver value to people FIRST, build trust and then they will open doors for you. Probably lots of them.