Why Information Marketing Relationships are Critical: Seven Steps to Building Relationships at a Corporate Speaking Engagement
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Building relationships are critical to your success in the information marketing business. I’m good at it when I want to be. I can also be VERY poor at it under certain circumstances.
Let me give you an example from a speaking engagement I just did. Speaking can be a major component of your info product offerings. It is for me and should be for you as well.
My buddy Avish Parashar and I just completed a speaking assignment earlier this week. We did a program for Lincoln Financial on using improv comedy to improve Negotiating Skills.
We were invited to do a program that consisted of two 90 minute sessions and then a quick 15 minute summary to demonstrate what we did for those who were unable to to attend either of the two 90 minute events.
The two 1 1/2 hour segments were in the morning. There was a break for a half hour between the two and then a lunch break before our 15 minute summary. At the break between the two morning sessions, I ran into one of the two women running the event. I thanked her for bringing us in and asked her what the feedback was from the first group.
She was very happy with what she heard. Great! I then let her know that we used our improv training to do a lot of other kinds of programs as well. I then asked her if she would give me her card at the next break. She seemed delighted to do so. When I saw her right as we ended the second session, she handed me a card and asked me to get in touch in the near future.
As my buddy Avish and I went down for lunch we were towards the back of the buffet line. Most of the tables were full when we got through it, but as we looked around, we saw one table open with two empty seats. We sat down and started to eat.
By chance, we had seated ourselves at the table of the head of the organization. The lady I mentioned earlier reports to the woman we were now seated with at the table. After some friendly chit-chat, and some serious discussion about what ELSE we might be able to do for the company, she gave me her card and suggested I contact HER as well.
After getting some really positive feedback from both of the ladies above during our 15 minute MINI PRESENTATION, we said our good-byes and left. I’ve had very few corporate speaking “gigs” that went as well as this one.
We were fully prepared, understood the company and their issues and DELIVERED on our promises in each of the three sessions where we spoke.
BUT, what really helped to make things work were the relationships we were building. First off, not to do any apple polishing, we both really LIKED everyone at Lincoln. They were incredibly easy to work with as clients. MUCH easier and more fun to work with than the MANY of corporate clients we’ve had.
Although Avish says I’m a “natural” networker, it makes it easy to do when the people are super nice and easy to work with.
I suspect that we’ll be doing MUCH MORE work with this group in the future. I sure hope so, they were GREAT.
There have been other times where I have NOT been very good at building relationships. For me, this happens when I either KNOW or FEEL that the people I’m around are unethical. In situations like that I frankly don’t care about relationship building because I don’t’ WANT to be ASSOCIATED with people like that.
Here are the 7 things I do to make things work.
1. Be polite and respectful. To EVERYONE. I’m always careful to treat everyone that I come in contact with respect. It doesn’t matter if it’s the waiter serving me at lunch or the bellman at the hotel. It matters. Clients see how you behave. Even when you think they aren’t watching. Luckily for me, this one comes pretty naturally to me. If it doesn’t to you, then work at it. It’s worth making the effort.
2. Deliver on your promises. We could have done a DECENT job and still gotten paid. BUT, doing just a DECENT job would not set the stage for future potential work. We did our homework and then delivered on our promises. Everyone who attended any of the sessions both had fun and learned something in the process.
3. Ask questions and listen. In every situation where I came in contact with the “bigshots” I tried to ask a lot of questions. That’s the only way I could find out more about them and what they need. I don’t learn anything from listening to myself talk. Neither will you. While listening, keep your mind open to areas where additional work might present itself.
4. Look for legitimate opportunities to promote yourself. Many people who get in front of corporate clients make themselves look foolish by OVER promoting and selling. While speaking with clients, see if your products and/or services have a legitimate roll to play with a client. If they do, mention them. If they don’t, keep you mouth shut.
5. Don’t push, just suggest. The worst way I’ve found to sell to upper level management within a corporation is to PUSH. They don’t like being pushed. No one does. They are no different. Instead, if you see a potential for work. SUGGEST that you MIGHT be the answer. They’ll make the decision and pushing just won’t help you. Suggesting is fine. Don’t be scared to do THAT.
6. Be flexible. We were presenting in the bar of the hotel. The meeting planner apologized to us for the venue. Who cares? We could have thrown a hizzy fit and acted like we were “above” doing our work in that environment. As it turns out it actually worked out perfectly. But, even if it didn’t, the client is paying us to do a job. Be willing to roll with the punches and make it EASY for them. They have enough going on at the event and don’t need more grief from one of their presenters.
7. Thank people. At the event itself, we made sure to thank our hosts for inviting us to speak. Many speakers are prima donnas and forget this piece. Don’t be one of THOSE speakers. In addition to thanking everyone we could find, we also followed up with a PHYSICAL thank you note. Yes, emailing would have been easier, but how many speakers still go “old school” and send a physical thank-you note?
I don’t know how much future work, if any will come in from this speaking engagement. I hope, quite a bit. They are a great corporate client to work with. Regardless of what happens, these seven steps are what you should do if you’re ever in the situation yourself.
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