Have you ever been to a networking event, or on a discovery call with a prospective client, and you wished the floor would open up and swallow you? I know I have and it all came down to how I handled the first 8 seconds of the interaction.
“8 seconds?” I hear you say … “Is that all?”
Yes! We only have 8 seconds to make an impression on someone! Research tells us that within the first seconds of meeting someone new our brains make significant decisions about that person’s character. In a flash, we evaluate a person’s trustworthiness, credibility, confidence and overall likeability.
So when I think back to those situations I realise now that how I handled the first 8 seconds came down to three things:
- How I was feeling about the situation – in the early days of my career II didn’t want the person to feel like I was “selling” them something – so this could come across as awkward and fumbling
- What I was saying – if I was unprepared it showed! If I hadn’t thought about what I was saying I would inevitably fumble my words and feel awkward
- How much I felt I had engaged and interested the other person so that they would ask me questions – Again the more awkward I felt the less I felt I had engaged the other person. When I started feeling this way it was likely to fizzle out to nothing … or worse … a discussion about the weather.
We can play mind games with ourselves that can tie us in knots
What I am talking about here is the mind games we play with ourselves when it comes to networking or sales situations. As conscious entrepreneurs, it can sometimes feel really uncomfortable to even have to think about talking about ourselves – but if we want to make the difference we want to make in the world we need to put ourselves out there.
So on a scale of 1 to 10 how comfortable do you feel when someone asks you what you do? Are you an amazing 10 where you feel incredibly clear, calm and collected or do feel self-conscious and awkward … or are you maybe closer to 1? If you are feeling anywhere below a 7 out of 10, here are some simple, actionable tips to help you feel more comfortable and less awkward about the whole experience:
1. Be prepared
We often stumble in the first 8 seconds because we haven’t prepared for the conversation. So take some time beforehand to think about what you’re going to say will make a huge difference. This will quash any nerves and help you be more prepared for a variety of situations and questions (not only what you will be asked, but what you can ask others). Get ready to introduce yourself and for the inevitable question of what you do and what your business offers. Being prepared will help you feel more confident and will go a long way to making those first 8 seconds count.
2. Reframe your introduction to focus on how you help others
Instead of giving your company name or history or talking about the process of what you do – reframe your introduction so you talk about how you help people. Explaining how you help people helps you in a number of ways as it:
- helps you internally reframe your thoughts about selling to serving (read my recent blog post about this here)
- disarms the other person – they were expecting to receive a bottled history of your business or a standard answer about what you do
- creates a pathway for the other person to ask more questions (and get more engaged) in your conversation
3. See the opportunity as a chance to create a friend, not gain a customer
The whole idea of networking and sales or discovery calls can put a lot of pressure on us. So again I invite you to reframe your whole experience of the situation. See the interaction as a chance to gain a new friend rather than to gain a new client in 5 minutes. Doing this takes a lot of pressure off you AND it is much more realistic. A new client relationship is just that – a relationship. And relationships take time to nurture and grow.
If we take the analogy further – you wouldn’t be likely to marry someone after just one meeting so why put that pressure on a networking situation? Every time I have treated the situation like a friendship exercise I’ve felt more relaxed and have had a much better connection with the other person which has led to a long-term relationship.
Once you’ve put yourself in the friend zone start asking the other person questions. This will help you in three ways:
- you’ll take the pressure off yourself to fill the space with engaging content
- you’ll learn more about the other person
- your likeability will increase – research shows people like people more who ask about them about themselves. If you’d like more tips on this read my other blog on how to smash your networking nerves here.
4. Be clear on how people can take the next step with you
If you’ve covered the first three steps outlined here it’s highly likely the person might be interested in engaging with you further. So please, please be clear on what that next step is – maybe it’s to take their card and arrange a coffee catch up or a free discovery call. Maybe you have a free opt-in like a cheat sheet or checklist that would really help them. Ask for their details so you can send it to them.
Whatever you do please be clear on how people can take the next step to engage with you some more.
Want to explore how to overcome your fear of selling and self-promotion more?
If you are not clear on what that next step is or you want to explore this whole idea of selling and self-promotion from a much more authentic and comfortable place I invite you to download my free workbook here. Step Into Your Yes: 5 Steps To Help You Step into Your Power. Overcome Your Fear of Selling, Build Your List and Grow A Business You Love.
Also, I’d love to hear how you go with the tips I’ve shared here. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or make a comment in the box below.
Until next time, take care and take inspired action!