Monday, August 16, 2010

It Is Always About The Schmooze

I use up a lot of bandwidth writing about marketing. It is all important information. However, no marketing technique will ever be mare valuable to a professional practice then the schmooze, i.e., the good old fashioned personal relationship building. After all, referrals are still the best way to generate business.

On his personal branding blog Dan Schwabel recently posted an interview with Mark Jeffries. The interview reiterates the importance of personal relationships, and the schmooze!

Today, I spoke to Mark Jeffries, who former Merrill Lynch Stockbroker, turned speaker and author of The Art of Business Seduction: A 30-Day Plan to Get Noticed, Get Promoted and Get Ahead. In this interview, Mark talks about how he’s branded himself, the connection between business and dating, some job search secrets, and more.

How is business seduction like relationship seduction?

There is a remarkable similarity between business and dating. Whether it’s at a bar in front of someone we want or in a boardroom in front of a client we need – We win people over, we spark their interest, we earn their trust and often, when it goes well, we end up getting exactly what we want! Great business and social relationships are built through trusted connections (friends of friends) Social proof (When other people talk about how great you) and the promise of something special followed (most importantly) by delivering more than was expected. Continuing to make your life-partner happy makes for a great relationship – the same is true in business. Just because you have won the deal does not mean that you stop re-winning the business.

How can you get an edge in the job market, stand out, and achieve success?

The new ABC in the job market is no longer Always Be Closing, it is Always BE Connecting. Spend much less time writing and re-writing your resume and much more time getting out and about, putting yourself on the radar and allowing people to see the value and the benefit of what you do. Remember when you explain your potential to people, it should ALWAYS be in relation to THEM. How would they be better off by using you more, giving you the job or handing you the promotion. Be seen, be present, be involved. Whether its online or in-person, the more people see that you are part of what is happening, the more they want you around. It’s the safety that comes from familiarity. Don’t go quiet on your network. Instead grow and nurture your contacts, put yourself on their radar and become a ‘connected-communicator’.

What tips do you have someone who has trouble getting attention from employers or bosses?

Many people feel somewhat invisible at work. It’s important to create a bolder more memorable and positive presence, but not to show off or draw attention for the wrong reasons. The Art of Business Seduction often involves, a subtle tease before the bigger sell. So try this. Write an e-mail on a Sunday night direct to your boss or client, teasing up some cool information that you have discovered. (you are going to need to find something vaguely interesting and practical!!) Do not reveal what this is, but instead announce that you will share it with him ‘tomorrow’.

Using this approach, he is now waiting for you to come over and spill it!! Here’s the win though, regardless of whether he likes or dislikes what you have found, you are showing yourself to be committed to the business and actively (on a Sunday) seem to be generating ideas. Another technique revolves around being close to the clients. If you are in a client-centric business, build good relationships with those clients and instantly elevate your position back at base. The more people can see that the clients find you ‘indispensable’ the more ‘indispensable’ you will be!

Can you explain your four-step process L-WAR?

Great business is all about giving people real confidence in your abilities and your potential. To have people want you rather than you constantly pushing yourself. Actively Listening and Watching (L W) before you do anything gives you a great chance to understand their needs before you say or do a thing. The simple act of taking your time before making your case is a key discipline that will instantly add value to what you are about to say.

Anticipating and reacting are the two actions needed to close this “Square of influence” around your target. Anticipating is all about putting yourself in their shoes. If you were that boss right now, what would you be thinking, feeling, concerned or excited about? With the right information and some smart thinking, you will know exactly what they would want to discuss next and you simply react by saying it first. This fills your target with instant confidence about your abilities because you seem to be “on their page”!

The common-sense skills of listening watching then anticipating and reacting (A R) immediately put you ahead of the competition. These skills are a basic start position – not a replacement for what comes next – great communication, smart soft skills and the new ABC, Always Be Connecting.

How did you become “The Business Seducer”?

Seduction is not confined to the bedroom – it is the way that we should all approach business. The reason is that it puts other people first, makes them happy and in a positive, yet indirect way, gets you what you want as well. It is a far more thoughtful method for conducting business, to get your message across and to encourage people to want you in their world.

I found that when I took the time to truly understand my clients, to go above and beyond their expectations, I earned their trust, respect and loyalty. I discovered that they started to check if I was available first before they even planned events. My involvement whether as a speaker of moderator or coach had added more value than my competitors had been able to deliver.

This was business seduction – I set out to make the client see that I was an excellent investment, that I had their best interests at heart and that they could trust me to deliver on all their objectives. I am proud of the connection I have with my clients and I know it works because they now ‘sell’ me to their contacts and colleagues. There is no greater affirmation that that!!

Mark Jeffries
, former Merrill Lynch Stockbroker, has become a trusted advisor and communications consultant to some of the world’s largest and most successful corporations, agencies, accounting and law firms. He’s the author of The Art of Business Seduction: A 30-Day Plan to Get Noticed, Get Promoted and Get Ahead (Wiley). As a keynote speaker and executive coach, Mark has built a business addressing professional conferences and coaching top business executives, lawyers and politicians. His top clients include Ernst & Young, Microsoft, IBM, Boeing, Royal Bank of Canada and HSBC. As a leader in the field of Strategic Communication and Soft Skills, Mark’s advice is widely sought in the corporate world as well as on TV and radio. Mark is a regular contributor on NBC’s Today Show, CNBC, BBC News, Sky News and Fox Business. He self-published a book in 2008 called What’s up with your handshake?: Using the Secrets of Strategic Communication and Soft Skills to Win.

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