John had a successful career, reaching financial director of a mid-sized company and was then made redundant ...
He felt that his offering would benefit his chosen target market, yet he confided in me that he threw up in the car park before his first sales meeting due to nerves, and going networking to promote himself was an equally traumatic experience.
Most people set up their own consultancy as a second career, coming out of employment with an enthusiasm to sell their hard-won knowledge and experience to others.
As John said "There is something different about promoting and selling myself rather than the company I work for; it's more personal. In those early days, it made me feel very exposed." On top of that, and particularly if you're English, it also conflicted with that programme that someone - usually our mothers - put into our head as children, "Don't blow your own trumpet".
Now, you may not have such an extreme reaction as John did, but if you have an aversion to selling yourself, you probably are one of those people who says you're not a natural networker and find it hard to be natural when having to promote yourself at networking events.
My first top tip is to stop networking to sell and instead make contact with others who can promote you and sell you to prospective clients.
We call it referral marketing. You focus on building relationships with other people in business and you spend your time promoting each other. So, much easier to promote others rather than 'blowing your own trumpet'.
And let's face it, we're all much more likely to believe that you're great at what you do if someone other than you tells us so.
The second tip is to stick to what you know best, what you feel confident in, your knowledge, skills and experience.
Share with your referral partners stories about how what you offer has helped real clients. People remember a good anecdote and love to pass them on too. And you're giving them the ammunition to promote you.
Then they can help you cross that first hurdle by introducing you to people who want to meet you because you can help them rather than sell to them.
Arrange to have a coffee with some other business people who have a similar client base. Focus on getting to know each other and share a few good stories. You'll never throw up in the car park again.
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.