A few years ago, I was contracted to provide training to a group of twenty-two government research and litigation attorneys. Their responsibility was to review every lawsuit filed by a government employee.
I was brought in to address some of the issues that they were having through a full-day motivational training program covering, among other things, the psychology of optimism. Things weren't exactly peachy in our nation's capital. Little did I know I was to receive a gift, albeit wrapped in barbed wire, but nonetheless a very powerful gift from this gut check experience.
Fear gripped me when I began projecting how I would be received by this group of critical thinkers. As I started my presentation the mood was silent and a bit stoic. Thirty minutes later I was still not invoking any type of communication from them. I was intimidated and full of fear.
A few minutes before the mid-morning break... it happened. I felt this inner guide telling me to stop. In mid-sentence, I became silent. I closed up my notes and walked around to the front of the desk and leaned against it while looking directly out to my audience. I kept quiet and acknowledged my fear, feeling every painful second of it. I could tell my audience grew tense and uncomfortable, yet I didn't feel a part of it. I was emotionally detached from the experience although all eyes were on me.
After about a minute I said, "We are done with that!" gesturing to my notes sitting on the desk. I continued, "I'm here for you today. I don't work here, and I'm more than moderately certain that I never will. I'm also not emotionally involved. I just want to help. All I ask is that we remain solution-oriented in our input. Having said that, what can you and management do to help each and every one of you get what YOU want?"
It took a little while but faces began to show emotion and bodies began to squirm. Hands began to rise and there was suddenly a flurry of involvement. For the better part of the next five hours we did what people do who genuinely want to help each other: we listened, encouraged each other to express and found solutions that worked for everyone.
After this event, I was invited back several times to conduct the same workshop with other branches of government experiencing similar issues.
My primary audience being salespeople, I was way outside my comfort zone. I experienced my greatest lesson in selling helping a group of attorneys. Go figure.
At first, my fears and self-consciousness caused me to worry about how the audience would receive me. But when I shifted the focus on them, everything changed. The minute I stepped into the role of helper, my natural abilities took over and the audience was much more receptive. I experienced that confident self that exists in all of us.
There are two types of unspoken sales approaches:
If you recognize that you or someone in your group is a self-conscious networker, don't lose heart. You are not alone: this segment is the majority. Follow these three tips to become a client-conscious networker:
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