Getting Back To Basics; The Power of People Skills To Create Business Success

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It’s a new year and this week the world officially returned to work. How was it for you?

I particularly enjoyed a digital detox over the holidays. In fact, I really valued the break so I plan to ease into 2019 by switching ‘busy’ into purposeful.

The first week back in, I’ve noticed how we’re being bombarded with messages and sales pitches.  All shouting what we need to start doing NOW to make 2019 a success. Surely enough, the anxiety of being swept up in the busy-ness of business quickly kicked in again. I’ve already had to go have a little lie-down!

Of course, if you want something big, your business effort needs to match those goals. But I’m also a big believer in balance and making an impact in the right way.

What I learnt from taking time out

Taking time out away from the digital space allowed more presence to enjoy time with friends and family. What struck me is how we engage with others and importantly, how and where we really make that impact.

I asked for client feedback before Christmas and was delighted with their responses. My success in relationship building to help achieve their goals was one of their key points. I was able to leverage media and industry connections to get the coverage or the partnerships they needed. If I didn’t already have those contacts, I was able to find, develop and nurture them quickly on their behalf.

In a digital age where we can expand our reach further, nurturing those relationships is equally vital.

I’ve never been driven by trends. I’m more a solid staples type of gal! Equally, new developments are embraced if it helps my personal and professional life. The changes I’ve adopted have been more on substance rather than style.

Whilst the new trends for marketing are being quickly implemented, I would like another key trend for 2019 to rise in popularity. Let’s revive the importance of people-skills and achieve better connection and quality of the relationships – both online and offline.

Building relationships not just acquiring contacts

As I always say, it’s not the number of followers you should focus on. It’s the quality of the engagement on your channels.

However, this is equally important in real-life. How many times do we actively support someone on social media but don’t cross a room to say hello? How many times do we meet a brilliant person at an event and not follow up?

And what is it about rank or job title that determines who’s worthy of our attention? Have you seen someone else dismissed as the other person can’t see what value they have at that point?

I’ve seen plenty of young talent rise up the ranks quickly, from junior writers to editors or executives to marketing directors in a couple of years. It’s well deserved and I’m pleased to have helped and supported them on their rise without thinking solely ‘what’s in it for me?’

I’ve tried wherever possible to maintain those relationships, even if it’s just online until we’re able to meet offline again. I’m always delighted when people get back in touch years later when they’ve remembered me for something else. I don’t take that connection lightly.

Being helpful and personable is something that is easy to do yet we fail to embrace it and the benefits it will always reap.

“People will forget you said, or will forget what you did but they’ll always remember how you made them feel”.
Maya Angelou

People-skills and relationships need to be developed, nurtured and valued.

Manners maketh the man (or woman!)

I could write an entire blog on this alone.

We’re in our own business bubble and often adopt a ‘give–take’ mindset. I gave you X, therefore I deserve Y.

Let’s forget the entitlement – no-one needs to do anything for us. Journalists don’t need to include you in their features. That company shouldn’t be grateful for spending time on a detailed proposal on how they can help your business. Your friend doesn’t need to buy your services, like your page or refer you.

It’s all great when they do of course, but that’s it – it’s a bonus! Therefore, we’re the ones that should be grateful.

A simple but powerful THANK YOU makes all the difference.

  • Thank the journalist or the writer – that’s not just up to your agency but you too. Take the time to meet or greet them whoever they are if they’ve come to visit you. Make yourself available.
  • Feedback your comments to the company who took the time to get to know your business and prepared a document for you. If they didn’t get the business, let them know why and where they could improve.
  • Thank your friend for the opportunity to work with them or the person that referred you. Keep them posted to how it went – did you get the business, did you not?

Think about it – you’ve delivered for your client, you’ve gone above and beyond but you get no feedback – nothing, nada. How does that make you feel? Deflating, isn’t it? So why treat people the same way?

Listening before selling

I met up with someone who had just started their own venture. She wanted to meet up as I had asked for recommendations and she wanted to pitch her services. I knew her for years within the industry but didn’t know her well personally so agreed to meet up and learn more.

No word of a lie, she talked AT me for an hour straight. Didn’t ask me a thing about how I work, my approach or who my clients were after, just how she could help me and the services they offered. If she doesn’t listen to me, she won’t listen to my clients therefore we’re not a good fit.

Working for different agencies over the years, we’re taught in sales training about making an impact and how to be dynamic and memorable. What I found was that often translated in talk first i.e. how to describe yourself in that perfect and impactful elevator pitch. I, however, worked differently.

For years, listening and being quiet was under-rated and seen as a weakness. However, I noticed the distinct benefits when working with clients. I’d listen to what was being said but also take note of what was unsaid to get to know them better. I would develop a great relationship with them as they felt I understood them, their business goals but also their personal challenges within the organisation so I could deliver win-win solutions.

Thankfully things have changed. Thanks to author Susan Cain for raising awareness on how introverts can make an impact, I’m able to better understand and utilise these skills in my own business with confidence.

If I’m meeting someone who wants to talk about support for their business I want to know about their challenges, their pain points. The objective of that meeting is not to close the sale. The purpose is to determine what is the solution they need and whether together, we’re the right fit to solve it.

Let’s make people-skills fashionable again!

And I don’t mean for a season – let it be that solid staple we can’t live without. That LBD, leather jacket or pair of boots that stands the test of time to forever add style to our wardrobe.

Whilst the world grinds back into gear, technology makes things more exciting and accessible. The problem isn’t keeping up but actually remembering the little things that make the biggest difference to your business and marketing.

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