Jacky Sherman

The Consultant's Consultant

07970 638857


Jacky Sherman

Referral Skills: Asking For Feedback

It takes courage to change ...

Posted on: 20/05/2015   By: Jacky Sherman

Last week I did something radical: I had my hair cut! Not a big deal for many people, I know, but I have worn my hair long for many years. Going to the hairdressers and saying ''Cut it off'' took some real courage ...

Especially as, unlike a lot of women, I hate going to the hairdressers and staring at the myself in the mirror, seeing my mother stare back at me!

"So what made me pluck up
the courage to do it?"

Well, the main platform for my personal development this year is to take my presentation skills up a notch, especially when talking to larger audiences. So I had some coaching from Patricia Frost, a professional presentation skills coach in my network. She kindly - but firmly - told me that my hair was a mess.

Then a couple of other brave women in my networking circle confirmed this for me, so it was definitely time to act. From the compliments I have had since, it was great advice so thank you, ladies!

Now, if you go networking, at some stage you will be presenting yourself and your business. Most network groups give you a short slot to present your business. Even if this isn't available, you are presenting your business every time someone asks you "What do you do?" and then engages you in conversation about your response.

What I want to suggest to you is that you get some feedback from others in the room about how effective you are in getting across your message. There are several reasons this feedback can be valuable to you.

  • Firstly, to check that others really understand what you do and for whom? In social settings like networking, people are great at nodding appreciatively whether they have understood or not. They are being polite rather than understanding and if they are interested in learning more they may ask questions, equally they may just move on. One thing is for sure, if they don't understand what you do or who you want to meet they can't refer you.

    If you ask someone's opinion it enhances your relationships with them. It's flattering to be asked and demonstrates that you value their input. It is even more flattering when you take heed and makes changes as a result. That person, if they agree to give you feedback, will give you and your services a lot more thought and you get the opportunity to explain their misconceptions.

  • Next, are you inspiring, annoying or boring? How people feel about you will decide whether they choose to engage with you and want to help you. This, of course, is where the nerves come into play as we feel we are being judged.

    Well, you are being judged, or at least assessed. You are asking to be referred to people who will pay for your services and they will certainly judge you and judge the reliability of the person who referred you.

    The best way to deal with that fear is to get it into perspective. If you get someone to give you feedback about how well you're doing, that can really bolster your confidence. Also, if you do have an area that is letting you down - like me and my hair - then you can do something about it.

    This means that all feedback has an emotional charge attached. No matter how confident you are, it can be difficult to accept criticism and most people know that. So the tendency is to give you anodyne answers, the ones people think you want to hear. To make this exercise useful you need to make the other person feel comfortable about giving it to you straight.

    Two things to consider here:

    1. Ask some questions that encourage constructive answers about the things you want to know about.

    2. Be prepared to listen carefully, accept both the positive and less palatable responses and resist the temptation to jump in to justify yourself.

  • Lastly, give your confidants some feedback on what you have learnt, whether you choose to follow their advice or not. If you do make changes then ask their opinion on what they have noticed as it will further deepen your relationship.

My referral tip this week is to ask for some feedback from your network on your presentations. Choose a couple of people you know well and who regularly hear you.

Explain that you want to improve your presentation and ask them if they would be willing to give you feedback. Reassure them that you would value their honesty and have a short list of questions to ask to help them. For example:

  • What, from hearing me present, do you think I do in my business?

  • How do I deliver this?

  • Who do I want to meet?

  • What could I do to get my message across more clearly for you?

  • What do you think comes over well?

  • What do you think I could improve?

Whatever they say, be prepared to take it on the chin! Make some changes as they've suggested and then go back to them for further feedback.

Would you like to learn more about presenting yourself and your business? I'd love to talk to you on 07970 638857 if you do. You can also email me by clicking here and I'll be in touch as soon as I can.

Until next time ...


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