Ever go to a party with your friends or to a work event with your colleagues, and everything’s cool? You meet some new people, maybe exchange a couple phone numbers, you see that cutie in the corner fancies you.
And then he shows up.
We all know him when we see him–it’s “That Guy.”
You know, the one who has to make sure everyone has his business card and hears his 30-second elevator pitch for his new venture that can cure all diseases with such-and-such 100% natural formula that came from grandma’s elixir cabinet.
Oh, plus it cures male pattern baldness.
Then That Guy moseys his way around the room, making sure that every conversation gets exposed to his strongly-held views on something he knows nothing about but uses big words for anyway.
(“No, no, see…the economy could be easily set upright if the Federal Reserve allocated 0.5% more liquid assets in the blah blah blah”).
Of course, That Guy’s next move is spotting which women are obviously attached–yet significant others are not present.
So he proceeds to whip out every canned pick-up line, generic compliment, and “I’m the Alpha Male here so back off losers” body language trigger to make these ladies quiver with lust.
Don’t be That Guy. Nobody likes That Guy.
Nobody wants to hire That Guy either. See, I just so happened to stumble upon an incarnation of That Guy on Reddit this afternoon.
The original poster of this thread was asking about how to getting started freelancing right now, then build a small business off that in the long-run.
Not to be outdone by other commenters asking the same question (“How can I start getting clients and making an income off my skills, like, yesterday?“), That Guy jumped right in:
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be “That Guy” (or gal…ladies, you’re not completely off the hook) who blasts off the same copied-and-pasted “if you know anyone who needs my services, please keep me in mind” sales pitch to 100’s of LinkedIn connections, Facebook friends, or email contacts.
Then promptly get called out for “spamming.” Not that I’ve ever done this. *whistles innocent, sprightly tune*
How is point #1 above a sustainable marketing strategy? How do you talk about yourself and your services in such a way that people are effin’ FIRED UP about telling literally everyone and their brother about you?
But maybe you don’t have a network in place.
Maybe you have a niche service that literally none of your friends, family, or acquaintances are interested in.
Maybe you are scared to death of coming across as scammy or lame when you talk about what you do.
Plus, cutting back on the quality of your service does not sound like a word-of-mouth marketing strategy to me.
“Yay! I made $8,000 this month! I’m gonna cut corners now, and business is gonna rolllllllllll in…” said no real business owner. Ever.
This is what bothers me about the conventional advice that’s spouted off about freelancing, entrepreneurship, and building a sustainable self-employed income.
This type of advice ASSUMES that networking is a strategy that’ll get you a butt-load of clients to take your pick from. It ASSUMES that clients will do word-of-mouth marketing for you without you having to teach them how. Maybe worst of all, this type of armchair-quarterback advice ASSUMES that marketing is easy (i.e., tell enough people about what you do and you’re bound to make an easy living).
But is it?
Before you take me for Grumpy Granny of the Day, I’ve got 2 recent victories to share, plus 1 challenge.
I should preface these 2 victories with this–I am not some ivory tower genius with 5 MBA’s, a thousand marketing textbooks memorized, and an ego the size of the Hindenburg prior to crash-and-burn. What I’m going to share with you, I’ve learned in the trenches of trial-and-error, what works and what doesn’t, and embarrassing disaster after embarrassing disaster–followed by CRUSH-IT wins.
How would you like to sit down in a room of strangers, tell a story about what you do (NOT pitch your services–this is key), and 60 seconds later 3 different people are scrambling for their smartphones to set an appointment with you…to hire you? (happened to me a few weeks ago, resulted in nearly $9k in revenue)
Or, how would you like to be lounging in a sauna (again, complete strangers), ask a series of targeted draw-out-interest questions to people about their lives and businesses, and 3 hours later you have a captive audience of a dozen people hanging on your every word as you tell a story about what you do.
People are begging you for your business card, and someone’s already saying they decided to hire you on the spot. (also happened to me, resulted in $8k in revenue)
I say this not to brag…okay, maybe a little. I felt happier than a middle-aged unemployed hardware engineer whose first Tinder match is a Brazilian supermodel (let the hate mail begin!).
Again, I say–you don’t have to be That Guy. The point of these stories is that you don’t have to “pitch” your services, “tap” your network (again…how, exactly?), or “tone down” your quality just to find more people who’ll drool with desire to hire you.
In fact, it IS simple when you realize that networking is not a strategy to get more clients–it’s a way you carry out your strategy of getting more clients. Spot the difference?
This isn’t a knock on networking. Heck, I attend 2-3 networking events per week. But my goal is not to “find clients” when I go (used to be though…I sucked at it). Instead, my goal is to tell emotionally compelling stories about my services that connect directly to the interests, challenges, and pain points of my listener. I want my conversation partners–even if they’re not a prospect at all–to feel like I “get” them.
That’s my goal. And it just so happens that I get very, very good projects through it.
So now my challenge to you. It’s more of a question, really:
What have you hated about your experiences with networking in the past? And what’s 1 thing you could do in the future to make people “drool with desire” for your services when you talk to them about your business?