Somebody once told me I was a poor business person, and I’m more like a desperate salesman. This same person told me I didn’t have the respect of my peers and colleagues, and on several occasions reiterated I needed to see a psychologist.
The last time I was on the receiving end of these wonderful comments was when a prospective client said NO to contracting us for a project. Despite my best efforts to convince this client that we were the “go-to” people, they had already made up their mind and engaged one of my competitors. Sadly this was not an isolated incident and had been the norm for most of my working life.
Across my career I have been on the receiving end of more NO than YES and despite the amazing things which have happened at Chatterbox what some people don’t realise is how many times I have heard NO during my speaker/coaching career. Being employed in a depressed market is challenging. Starting an entirely new career running your own practice is brutal – you need to build a reputation, you need to build credibility, you need to build a portfolio of clients and all of that is a seemingly impossible task when you keep hearing NO. Accepting the rejection is even harder because when you run your own practice – the NO is directly to YOU.
As Chatterbox has grown, I have noticed those NOs have started turning to YES and on several occasions, I’ve even had people who previously rejected me now returned and asked to work with me and I believe it’s happened because of these 3 strategies:
I have been constantly working on my positioning. That includes my messaging, my branding, my network and the people I chose to work with. I always focus on my positioning and maintain that focus. I review everything on a weekly basis to make sure I’m staying in my lane and remain positioned where I feel is my sweet spot. My positioning also means I review my website, videos, articles, content and attend the right networking events. I even think about conversations I have had at meetings and events and how I position myself when I meet people. I’m also conscious of how I’m positioned when I’m not in the room – and so it’s important to have a digital footprint which reflects me. Whilst I review and update my LinkedIn regularly, I don’t understand the digital world very well and thankfully my best friend Adam Quigley gets this space and runs Diginomic, so he’s got me covered and built an ace website for me! The thing is, no matter how hard you work on positioning there will always be people who say NO and you need to program your mind to deal with and adapt to that disappointment by channelling it.
Every time I hear NO, I channel that disappointment into more practice and evolving what I do. I channel that feeling into thinking about better ways to have a conversation, creative ways to build proposals and how I can better present myself from my physical appearance (clothes, haircut, facial hair, even the type of cologne I wear) to the verbal and non-verbal language I use when I meet people. I spend hours thinking about how I could do things better, how I can present and speak with authority and as manic as this sounds, how I can make the people who rejected me regret their decision. Thing is, once somebody says NO how can you remind them of their decision and still remain front of mind? Simple – social media.
Leverage Social Media
One way to show people what you are doing is being strategic about social media. I never used to believe in social media and I thought it was a waste of time until I built a strategy around it. My LinkedIn content often generates high engagement and in the last 6 months, I have had numerous people reach out to work with me despite saying NO when they first met me. Some of those people are my clients – others, the ones who I feel didn’t show me any respect, are not. Similarly, I have said NO to several prospective clients because they simply didn’t fit the type of person I want to work with (strategically turning YES into NO – but that’s for another article). Social media can be a double edge sword and it can easily distract you, however if it’s used correctly the exposure and credibility you can build is priceless. For example – one of my recent speaking posts generated over 18,000 views, a networking post over 15,000 views and an educational piece over 8,000 views. Each was carefully thought out, written and posted at a specific time and on a specific day. I never imagined having this much exposure on my social media and it’s resulted in speaking and coaching opportunities, increased my credibility and enabled me to build a new network. It’s also converted quite a few NO into YES!
It doesn’t matter how you position yourself, or channel disappointment or leverage social media – you need to also have a dedication, drive and hunger for what you do. I’m not saying I have become a fantastic business person or a prolific salesperson - I’m the same guy I was, the difference being now I do work I love, with people I like, the way I want (thanks for that Matt Church!). Once you find that sweet spot and combine it with a relentless desire to keep going, people recognise it and all of a sudden NO starts turning into YES.
To those who have said NO – I look forward to seeing you again soon.