Thursday, July 19, 2007

How to Balance "the sale" and "keeping it real"

That is a tough question and I guess those salespeople who are both successful and happy have gotten it figured out. I can't really give "tips" here, but I can give insight as to how I try to balance it. And I keep trying...

First of all, it is important to note that public relations is a sale because it's the selling of a concept or idea, yet I try to steer far away from the salesperson approach to PR - ICK! But how do you network and start building relationships that are business in orientation without coming across as being a pushy business pain-in-the-ass?
And here folks - I give you a list!

1.) Alcohol and Humor - if you are lucky enough to have a sense of humor and are surrounded by others with senses of humor and alcohol is involved - you are golden! You can yap away all night, solve the world's problems, and look forward to seeing each other in a boardroom one day. Unfortunately not everyone is funny and not everyone gets witty when they drink.
2.) Smile and mean it! There's nothing worse than those surly faced business gals and those guys that undress with their eyes. Sometimes it baffles me how these types of people are successful. If you're bopping around at a business function of some sort, chances are most people are just as uncomfortable as you. I enjoy getting people into conversation just to know that I helped make them feel less uncomfortable, but I could never do it if I wasn't actually happy with who I am and what I'm doing.
3.) Balance between Ego and Humility - ahhh, so difficult to balance! Yes, egos have to stay in check, that is obvious. But, with business networking, people do want to know what you do and what your strengths are, so finding that balance between bragging a little about what you do and being able to make fun of yourself is so key!
4.) Business Cards - Bring 'em and get 'em! Hand them out and get whatever you can get but then you MUST follow up!!!! This allows fun chit chat, shooting the breeze, skimmin' the foam - whatever! But then a business conversation can follow when people are back at the drone of computer monitors and too many bagels.
5.) Embrace the Marketing Golden Rule in whatever you do! And what is that rule you ask? You Cannot Be Everything To Everyone - EVER. The sooner people, businesses, concepts, organizations, etc. learn that rule, the more lucrative they will see marketing and publicity efforts become! This gets into targeted audiences and I think my PR students at Champlain College should be able to give a good talk on this area. Some people will not like you, your product, your idea, your hair, or your shoes. Get over it and move on to someone who does without getting pissy!

Ok, comments time!! What are some of YOUR tips to selling, networking, schmoozing, etc.


Anonymous said...

Great post Rachel; I can share some of the things I've learned regarding Schmoozing and Networking over the course of my career.

Participate in the real world. Effective schmoozing an networking can't be done alone from your office, on the phone or via a computer. Force yourself to go to tradeshows, conventions, and seminars, etc. It's unlikely that you'll be closing a big order or a contract with someone you met online at, Linkedin or Facebook.

Be a good conversationalist. Ask good questions, then listen. The mark of a good conversationalist is not that you can talk a lot. The mark is that you can get others to talk a lot. Thus, good schmoozer's are good listeners and sometimes great talkers!

Read a lot. In order to be a good schmoozer/networker, you need to read voraciously. You need a broad base of knowledge so that you can access a vast array of information during conversations. This way you can always talk about a variety of topics.

Regarding your point on "Business Cards"; I would really emphasize the Follow up piece. Over the course of my career, I've given away hundreds of business cards and I always notice how hardly anyone ever follows up. I don't know why people bother asking for a business card if they're not going to follow up. Great schmoozer's follow up within twenty four hours; often times a short email will do: “Nice to meet you. I hope we can do something together. Hope your blog is doing well.” Include at least one thing to show the recipient that he/she isn't getting one of those standard responses.

Help whenever possible. One of my great pleasures in life is helping other people; just as importantly I've found that asking for the return of favors is a really good thing; keeping someone indebted to you puts undue pressure on the relationship. Any decent person feels guilty and indebted. By asking for, and receiving, a return favor, you clear the decks, relieve the pressure, and set up for a whole new round of give and take. After a few rounds of give and take, you're best friends.

I liked what Darcy Rezac said in his book, The Frog and the Prince, about schmoozing: “Discovering what you can do for someone else.” Herein lies eighty percent of the battle; great schmoozer's want to know what they can do for you, not what you can do for them. If you understand this, the rest is just mechanics.

Leanne said...

I am in marketing and this is some sound advice, Rachel.