I had a lovely email when I first published this blog post from one of my clients, new to running his own business ...
In the email he said, "In answer to one of your questions 'Is your business facing in the right direction?' I wrote, 'Not sure because I think my eyes are closed.' I know that was only the second session, but I do feel as if you are slowly opening my eyes - thank you."
He has two essential ingredients for success, the humility to admit he doesn't know what he doesn't know and the willingness to find out. I'm going to enjoy opening his eyes even wider!
In return, he gave me a new awareness of the power of the coaching questions I ask. If I'm brutally honest I ask that question in an exercise I undertake so often it had become routine for me.
I recently met with another new consultant straight out of corporate life and suffering from a crisis in confidence on entering the world of the small business owner. He knows his stuff, but realised that he doesn't know his audience. As he put it, "How do I add value? I don't know what they know and what they don't know". We'll find out together who needs to know what he knows and is willing to pay to find out.
Contrast this with another consultant who came on one of my introductory courses last year. I remember it well because he is the only person I have ever had who complained he didn't learn anything from the session.
My first reaction was that as he offers marketing services himself, then it was somewhat re-assuring for his customers that he already knew the basics of marketing. My second reaction was to ponder what had made him come to my workshop? The cynic in me thought he was simply eyeing up the competition, in which case he learnt that we shared the same principles.
However, an off-the-cuff remark after the session gave away his real reason. He was frustrated that he gave and gave and gave to other people, but most never gave back to him. What I hadn't done in that short session was address this particular phenomenon for him.
That reminded me of another rather more perceptive client who qualified a similar response to that workshop referring to it as "the blindingly obvious I haven't been doing" Still my favourite quote. What I teach appears quite simple, but mastering the skills and capturing the nuances necessary to build referral relationships is more difficult.
What he hadn't grasped was the subtlety around it. His demeanour in business and in networking was as the "one who knows the answers, the one who can distribute his largesse".
Yes, he did ask for referrals in return, but as an expectation of reciprocation. What he didn't show was the humility to acknowledge others had knowledge and resources he didn't have and that he needed help from them too. The difference between "Can you introduce me to X?" and, "Can you help me with an introduction to X?" To be fair that particular insight did not, at that time, feature in my workshop. My learning from his feedback was to add it in!
To sum up, my tip for you (and for me) is to be confident that we have something to offer others that will open their eyes to new possibilities. Equally, there is an awful lot we are not even aware that we don't know. Have the humility to ask for help and others may surprise and delight you.
Works for me!
If you'd like to learn more about referral marketing then do give me a call on 07970 638857 and let's have a chat and see how I can help you.