Maybe it’s because I was getting ready for my webinar, From Zero to Clients: Starting (or Re-starting) Your Word-of-Mouth Referral Machine, but I reached out to my network several times last week, asking for referrals for various jobs I needed done. What I experienced showed me just how critical these referrals are for solopreneurs and how important it is to excel if you have been referred to someone.
Today’s Wall Street Journal has a great piece on how to be a better listener. While it’s useful in any conversational setting, it is particularly valuable when you are approaching a negotiation with a client.
Before a negotiation, for example, you should:
- do a brain dump of pending work so you can pick it up later (so your mind is clear)
- make a list of questions and topics you want to cover (This enables you to fully listen to the other person, rather than constantly thinking of what you want to say next.)
- set an intention to talk 25% and listen 75% (yes, really!)
- drop your assumptions of what the other person will say and just listen
In preparation for my presentations at the 2014 SLA Annual Conference & INFO-EXPO (that’s a mouthful), I went through the online directory of exhibitors to get some good examples of vendors describing themselves by value rather than by lists of features. I was dismayed to see that virtually all of them simply described the company (“we’ve been in business for X years”, “a global leader in information blah blah”) and mentioned what services they offer.
Very few exhibitors took the time to tell exhibit hall attendees why their product or service would be meaningful or would enable the attendees to accomplish their goals. Only a handful talked about the value they provide to this group of professionals. Given the cost to exhibit, I would expect a little more energy invested in figuring out and articulating their value proposition.