22 October 2008

Always be prepared for an opportunity

The potential for a new customer is always just around the corner. Astute business owners know this and they are always ready for action. To truly take advantage of any opportunity you need to be prepared. You need to keep a supply of business cards on you and a stock of promotional material or product samples handy and of course you need to be able to hand them out at the drop of a hat.

Most of all, you have to be ready to talk to someone about what it is you sell. Something that I have noticed over the years is that many business owners are outwardly shy when it comes to talking about their business. They are almost afraid of saying what they do. While humility is nice, it really isn’t a good strategy for building a business.

Look for any opportunity to promote your business and you will find plenty of them. Look at any chance encounter as an opportunity—who knows what will come out of it. I have made a surprising number of excellent contacts and long term customers from simply striking up a conversation with the person next to me on a plane (and no, I am not one of those weirdos that talks non stop on planes – hang on – maybe I am – oh my gawd).

If you are generally interested in other people, you will find they will reciprocate and be interested in you. I am not advocating you stalk people, just that you be prepared to tell people about your business and be prepared to give them more information. Don’t ever judge a book by its cover. The person sitting next to you, or standing a line with you could easily be your next big customer. Assume that they are, rather than assuming that they are not!

Interestingly, the starting point here is being able to say what it is you do in a way that grabs the other persons attention. A lot of people actually struggle with this part of the interaction. When asked what they do there is a kind of mumble with downcast eyes. I recommend you have a very clear statement in your mind: when asked what you do, stop, look the person in the eye and tell them boldly exactly what you can do for them.

This may sound dumb, but try doing a dry run in front of a mirror. Get excited, be energetic and most of all be passionate about your business. People want to do business with people who are passionate and energetic. Who wants to buy from the most miserable person in the street?

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