Note on Book Yourself Solid

Following are my highlights from Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port. Unless noted otherwise, you can assume I agree wholeheartedly with anything listed below. Bottom line: it’s a great book that any solo practitioner should buy now and read cover to cover.

Choose your clients as carefully as you choose your friends.

Remember that your work is doomed to fail if you don’t love it and share it with the world. And here’s the biggie: When you’re fully self-expressed, you will love marketing. You won’t have conflicting intentions about promoting yourself. You won’t feel that the world is coming to an end when you get a rejection. You’ll smile and move on to the next opportunity because your ability to express yourself is directly proportional to your level of confidence and vice versa.

The elevator pitch was born so that the entrepreneur could pitch an idea to a venture capitalist or angel investor in the hopes of receiving funding, not for the service professional to try to build a relationship of trust with a potential client. Venture capitalists often judge the quality of an idea on the basis of the quality of its elevator pitch. Makes perfect sense, in that situation. But this is not how a relationship develops between a client and a service professional. You’re trying to earn the status of a trusted advisor not trying to raise money to create some new product like metal-detecting sandals. Totally different context. Totally different dynamic.

The dialogue is a dynamic, lively description of the people you help, what challenges they face, how you help them, and the results and benefits they get from your services. It is intended to replace the static, boring, and usual response to the question, “What do you do?” “I’m a business consultant,” “I’m a massage therapist,” or “I’m a graphic designer”; answers that often elicit nothing more than a polite nod, comment, or awkward silence and a blank stare. Once you get that response, anything more you say about yourself or your services will sound pushy. Worse yet, you could supplement the rote answer with an overblown, high-highfalutin, hyperbole-laden elevator speech that’s supposed to make you look like a rock star in 30 seconds.

Now that you’ve got a solid foundation, it’s time to look at how to develop a strategy for creating trust and credibility so that you stand out from the crowd and begin to build relationships with your potential clients. Your strategy will be based on: Becoming and establishing yourself as a likeable expert in your field Building relationships of trust over time through your sales cycle Developing brand-building products and programs

Have you heard the expression, “It’s not what you know that’s important but who you know”? There’s some truth to it but, if you’re a professional service provider, consider the importance of “Who knows what you know and do they like you?” If you want to establish yourself as an expert in your field, a “category authority,” potential clients as well as marketing and referral partners need to know that you know what you know . . . and they need to like you.

Just remember—when communicating with your potential clients, be clear about what you know and clear about what you don’t. People who are credible don’t actually know everything, and they are just as comfortable saying that they don’t know something as they are saying that they do.

Now that you know what you need to do to become and establish yourself as a category authority, we’re going to look at an even more important factor to consider: Do your potential clients like you? Do they perceive you as likeable? And I mean really likeable. The fact is that if they don’t, none of the rest of your efforts to establish yourself as a category authority will matter.

Mark McCormack, the founder of International Management Group (IMG), the most powerful sports management and marketing company, agrees: “All things being equal, people will do business with a friend; all things being unequal, people will still do business with a friend.”

To make choices, we go through a three-step process. First, we listen to something out of a field of opportunities. Then we either do or do not believe what we’ve heard. Finally, we put a value on what we’ve heard. Then, we make our choice.

Susan owns a spa and is interviewing two massage therapists. The first candidate has been a professional for 12 years, is certified in Shiatsu, deep tissue, sports, Swedish, and relaxation massage. The second candidate has only recently completed a basic massage-certification training program and has minimal experience but comes with good references. They both expect to earn approximately the same amount per session. The first massage therapist walks into the interview 10 minutes late, frowning and obviously agitated. She then launches into a litany of complaints about her day to explain her delayed arrival. This candidate leaves Susan feeling on edge and irritated. Susan realizes very quickly that her clients and staff are likely to have a similar negative reaction to this massage therapist’s demeanor. The second massage therapist is waiting patiently for her interview when Susan finishes with the first. She beams a radiant smile at Susan as she enters the office. Her upbeat temperament has a profound and immediate effect on Susan, and she feels herself relax as she smiles back. She already knows that her clients and staff will love her. Who do you think is hired? You darn tootin’ right it’s the less experienced but highly likeable message therapist who gets the nod.

Your likeability factor has an enormous impact on your perceived value. Develop your credibility, establish yourself as an expert, strive to be your best, most likeable self, and you’ll quickly become the best and most obvious choice for your potential clients.

We know that people buy from those they like and trust. This is never truer than for the professional service provider. If you don’t have trust, then it doesn’t matter how well you’ve planned, what you’re offering, or whether you’ve created a wide variety of buying options to meet varying budgets. If a potential client doesn’t trust you, nothing else matters. They aren’t going to buy from you—period. If you think about it, this may be one of the main reasons you say you hate marketing and selling. You may be trying to sell to people with whom you have not yet built enough trust. All sales offers must be proportionate to the amount of trust that you’ve earned.

just remember—all sales start with a simple conversation and are executed when a need is met and the appropriate amount of trust is assured.

Your services have a high barrier to entry. To potential new clients, your services are intangible and expensive—whether you think they are or not—especially to those who have not used the kind of services that you offer or who have not had good results with their previous service providers.

Do you realize how many more clients you could be serving if they just knew what you had to offer? The best way to inform them is to have at least one, if not a few, compelling offers that have no barrier to entry.

A client hires you when the circumstances in his life or work match the offers that you make. If you’re a mortgage specialist, I may not need your services right now. But perhaps, six months from now, I stumble upon a “FOR SALE” sign in the front yard of my dream home. You can bet that I’ll not only want your services, I’ll need them immediately.

To book yourself solid, perform daily tasks that will keep your name in front of potential clients.

The size of your network, and especially the number of potential clients in your network, is directly proportional to how booked solid you are.

Building a large list and having permission to communicate with them will make it easy to secure new clients whenever you need to. All you have to do is send out a newsletter or e-newsletter, publish a blog post, or tweet a compelling offer, and voilà!—you’ll have new ideal clients. I am not being glib, you’ll see for yourself just how easy it is once you build trust with a large group of raving fans who have given you permission to add value to their lives and make offers to them at the same time.

In this stage you will demonstrate your knowledge, solutions, and sincere desire to provide value to your target market free of charge, with no barrier to entry and at no risk to them. The benefits include increased trust—they will feel as though they know you somewhat better.

My Stage Two objective is to encourage my web site visitors to subscribe to my newsletter by entering their name, e-mail address, and location. If they do, they will also get a free chapter from each of my books, Book Yourself Solid, Beyond Booked Solid, The Contrarian Effect, and The Think Big Manifesto, along with a high quality 60-minute audio recording in which I expand on certain concepts, principles, and strategies.

The point is, I don’t want to try to sell them these online and phone-based coaching courses until they’ve had the opportunity to read one of my books. I want them to be excited about meeting me and my team and know that we can serve them before they sign up for a coaching course. That one factor, knowing that we can serve them, will give our participants better results, and that’s our goal—to help our clients get the results they want.

As a professional service provider you don’t want to try to convince people that what you’re offering is right for them. You want to provide value upon value until they believe that your services are right for them. They will get better results that way and be more satisfied with your services, a factor that is way too important to forget about.

I worked with a man who is a personal trainer and a healthy-eating chef. When he came to me, he was facing two challenges that he needed my help with. He was not living up to his full income potential because of working with clients on just a one-on-one basis, and he hadn’t created a relentless demand for his services. Both of these concerns caused him to be anxious over what his future held. I first asked him to look at how we could adapt his services from just offering one-on-one training, to group programs. Then we created his always-have-something-to-invite-people-to offer: the Fitness Fiesta for Foodies. One Sunday evening a month, he would host a party at which he would teach his guests how to prepare healthful meals that help them stay fit. There were two requirements for attendance, however. He would put that month’s menu on his web site and each guest was required to bring one item off the menu. Each guest was also asked to bring someone new to the event, thus creating a new audience for his work. He barely had to market himself. It was magical. People loved it and they loved him for doing it. And they joined his programs because of it.

You’ll notice that the two always-have-something-to-invite-people-to examples I offered are done in a group format. There are three important reasons for this: 1. You’ll leverage your time so you’re connecting with as many potential clients as possible in the shortest amount of time. 2. You’ll leverage the power of communities. When you bring people together, they create far more energy and excitement than you can on your own. Your guests will also see other people interested in what you have to offer, and that’s the best way to build credibility. 3. You’ll be viewed as a really cool person. Seriously, if you’re known in your marketplace as someone who brings people together, that will help you build your reputation and increase your likeability.

Please give away so much value that you think you’ve given too much, and then give more. I had a friend in college who, when he ordered his hero sandwiches, would say, “Put so much mayonnaise on it that you think you’ve ruined it, and then put more.” Gross, I know (I believe that he has since stopped eating his sandwiches that way and his arteries are thanking him), but adding value is not a dissimilar experience. Remember, your potential clients must know what you know. They must really like you and believe that you have the solutions to their very personal, specific, and urgent problems. The single best way to do that is to invite them to experience what it’s like to be around you and the people you serve.

I just love the opportunity offered through information product creation because you can follow a simple step-by-step system that leads you to the production of the kind of revenue and satisfaction that comes from bold self-expression.

One of the biggest problems service professionals face is the paradigm of trading time for money. If all you ever do is trade your time for money, your revenues are limited by how much you charge per hour. For example, if you speak in front of 100 of your prospects and you’re able to sell a couple dozen of your information products at $50 each, then you’ve just increased your hourly rate from $100 to more than $1,000 an hour.

When considering how to create an information product, start by examining the different possibilities and ask yourself, “How can I leverage my existing knowledge and experience to create a quality product that I can produce and launch in the shortest amount of time possible?” Be sure you don’t overlook any content you may already have created. If you’ve written an article, you have content that you can leverage into multiple formats. You can quickly and easily turn your article into an e-course, use it as the foundation for an e-book, print book, or program, or present it as an introductory presentation or teleclass. A single article can be leveraged into any or all of these formats, making it possible to create an entire sales cycle from a single source of content.

It’s important to be clear about your intentions for your product or program, and it’s critical that your product or program meet the needs of your target market. No matter how much you might love to create something, if your target market doesn’t need it you’ll be defeating your purpose.

Perhaps a strength and conditioning coach who created a breakthrough video product on how to increase performance doing three, 30-minute Kettlebell workouts a week might consider writing a series of articles, blog posts, and online press releases (we cover these in Chapter 16) that include links to two-minute video clips lifted from the product. This content, sent to her e-mail list, posted on her blog and in article and press release directories, is designed to stimulate discussion on the topic rather than to explicitly promote the product. Instead, she’s encouraging her audience to consider particular issues and solutions to those issues before she releases the product itself.

Your potential buyers should feel like they’re getting a significant return on investment; value should overwhelm cost.

I suggest that you carefully consider how you want to be perceived, however, when promoting your information products. Will you create a hyperkinetic, high-intensity product launch based on the principle of scarcity? Will you try to tap into the buyer’s fear that they’ll miss out if they don’t act right away, or the perception that if they don’t buy what you’re offering they’ll never move forward and will, basically, fail at whatever it is you’re offering to help with? Or, will you create a reasoned, sensible, and appropriate product launch based on integrity? Look, I’m comfortable with special time-and space-limited offers as long as they are based on integrity and they’re not too hyped up and aggressive. There is a well-known marketing expert who says, “If you’re not annoying some of your prospects, then you’re not pushing hard enough.” I’m not hip to that concept.

You are how you market.

When you ask someone to promote a product for you, you’re asking a lot—more than you might realize at the moment. You’re asking for access to what might be his most prized business asset—the trust he has built with his subscribers.

These two chapters are the culmination of the Book Yourself Solid system because you’ll learn how to make offers that are proportional to the amount of trust that you’ve earned and how to have a sales conversation that books new business.

“Price is what you pay; value is what you get.” —Warren Buffett

What is the value, for example, of having the talent and skills to create a compelling web presence for someone or maybe a training manual for a corporation? Is it the length of time it takes for you to produce it, or the number of pages created, or, how about the number of images used? The answer is . . . D, none of the above. Unfortunately, that’s how many service providers price their products and service offerings—as stuff.

“the only way to put a price on ideas is to put a value on what they will produce.”

How long it takes you to write something, or design something, or think up an idea, or even the amount of time you spend with a client, is irrelevant. What (should) matter to the client is the financial, emotional, physical, and spiritual return on investment your product or service provides—remember, I introduced you to the all-important, life-changing FEPS benefits (financial, emotional, physical, and spiritual). Think about the value you provide.

But don’t shed any tears for me. I do just fine. I intentionally keep my prices low, compared to my colleagues, for my online and teleseminar courses. This way, newer small business owners (possibly like you) are able to enroll in the courses. Sure, it allows more people to participate and you might think that I make bigger profits due to volume but it’s not the case because my expenses are also higher. My most profitable offerings are my small-group in-person coaching workshops and big corporate speaking gigs. And yes, they’re at prestige prices. Worth every penny, I might add.

The vast majority of research points to this, though: once you are living above the poverty line, most happiness is a result of meaningful interpersonal relationships and connection to those around you. So, go on, do some good in the world. As my mother says, “C’mon, it won’t kill you.”

Quantity discounts. You may be able to encourage clients to buy more of your services if they can get better prices the more they purchase. This model is very common for personal trainers and others like yoga teachers who sell sessions on an ongoing basis. For example, a yoga teacher may sell sessions in 5, 10, 15, and 20 packs. The price per session will decrease for each subsequently larger pack, making the 20-pack the best deal. She may even decide to offer a value-added bonus to the buyer of the 20 pack: a free, three-hour yoga retreat for the client and 20 of her closest friends, for example. Yes, you’re right, what a great value add to the client as well as a remarkable marketing opportunity for the yoga teacher—20 brand new potential clients brought right to her door step, or in this case, yoga mat.

Here’s how I used free sessions to “close” 65 percent of new business during my first year in business. I included an offer for a 20-minute laser coaching session into my sales cycle—but only after someone had demonstrated that she was serious about learning from me. If someone downloaded my seven-part e-mail mini-course (see why information products are important to the lead generation and conversion process?) I would send her the first two lessons during Week One. Each lesson included two paragraphs of education followed by a detailed written exercise. Then, instead of starting off Week Two with Lesson Three, I would send a “congratulations and reward” e-mail, offering praise and appreciation for the work she put in to the first two lessons (all of this was automated). As a reward, I offered her a complimentary 20-minute telephone coaching session to address any questions she had about the material in the first two lessons. I called these phone sessions “laser coaching sessions.” A number of criteria needed to be followed, however, to book the session, which I spelled out in the “congratulations and reward” e-mail: She had to schedule the session using my public calendar. I made only a few spots available on Friday afternoons so that a waiting list developed quickly. This way I didn’t look like I was sitting around twiddling my thumbs, hoping someone would show up. If she missed the session or didn’t reschedule with 24 hours notice, she missed the opportunity and could not reschedule (again, all of this was automated). If she were more than a few minutes late to the phone session, I wouldn’t pick up. And, finally, one week before the scheduled session, she had to send me an e-mail with her responses to the exercises from the first two lessons. This helped because: If she had not already done them, it got her to do the exercises. Getting clients to consume your work is as important as getting them to hire you. By reviewing their written exercises, I knew what they needed before they dialed my number. It showed me what they were struggling with and how to help them. So, in just 20 minutes I could solve their problems and create an impressive result. You might think that all these rules would put potential clients off. You’re trying to get clients, not force them to jump through flaming hoops. But, you know what? Over 65 percent of the people who signed up for the free 20-minute session became clients. The other 35 percent, for the most part, truly couldn’t afford it. But I’ll tell you what, that other 35 percent generated even more business for me because they went out to their community and talked about me and the work I “gifted” them.

I see an acupuncturist from time to time. He might be the best-known acupuncturist in my town (I live in a small town). He’s likely the most experienced, and has an overbooked practice because of it. Every time I see him he complains (in a nice way) that he’s overworked and can’t keep up with demand. He doesn’t want to change the model of his business, in that he still wants to see patients himself and doesn’t want to manage other acupuncturists, nor does he want to raise his prices. So, every time I see him, I complain to him (in a nice way) that his prices are too low and, in fact, should be doubled. His answer is always the same, “But, Michael, if I double my rates, I’ll lose half my clients.” I’ll pause here to let that sink in just as I do with him. He never gets it. Maybe you will. First of all, he won’t lose half his clients but even if he did lose half his clients, he’d still make the same money and have twice as much free time. More likely he’ll lose just a few clients but make much more money overall, because of the price increase.

If you do raise prices it’s a good idea to let clients know why. There’s nothing wrong with saying that you’re fortunate to be in high demand and are raising your prices so that you can give more attention to your clients. Or, that certain expenses related to serving your clients have increased and you’re raising your prices accordingly. People like the truth. I’d prefer to be open and honest with my clients, running the risk of disappointing a few of them, than be manipulative or obtuse, running the risk of damaging my soul. Just be sure to let them know what the new rates will be and when they go into effect. Give them reasonable notice so they can adjust to the changes. And, most important, remind them of the continuing benefits they’ll get from working with you.

My son’s favorite pizza place is an organic restaurant called Jules Thin Crust Pizza. At one point last summer, the price of cheese went down. Now, the average customer is not going to know this. I love cheese but I don’t buy it in bulk. It would have been easy, and cheesy (sorry, couldn’t resist), for Jules to just pocket the extra profit from the savings. But no, instead, they put up a big sign announcing the cheap cheese and that they were lowering prices because of it. All summer, their busy season, no less, prices were reduced. I asked the owner, John, whether the cheese experiment cultured nicely or stunk up the place (sorry, again, couldn’t resist). He said it was a huge success—customers loved it, as you might imagine. Now, John’s not the type to boast about sales but I’m pretty sure he saw more business because of his gastrointestinal-stimulus package.

“Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.” —Frank Zappa

As a service provider you may not want to think of yourself as a salesperson. You’re in the business of helping others, and the sales process may feel contradictory to your core purpose. If you’re uncomfortable with the sales process, it’s likely that you view it as unethical, manipulative, and dishonest. Looking at it that way, who wouldn’t be uncomfortable? Many service professionals also feel uncomfortable charging for services that either come easily to them or that they love doing. There is often a sense that if it comes easily and is enjoyable, there’s something wrong with charging others for doing it. Add the fact that service professionals sell themselves as much as they sell a product, and the whole idea becomes even more uncomfortable. It may feel like you’re bragging and being shamelessly immodest. Becoming comfortable with the sales process requires that you let go of any limiting beliefs you may have about being worthy of the money you’re earning. In fact, developing the right comfort level also requires a shift in your perspective of the sales process itself.

Most people who are successful get paid to do what they do well. You don’t usually become successful doing something that you find difficult. You become successful when you exploit your natural talents. Imagine Tom Hanks saying he shouldn’t get paid to do movies because he’s really good at it and loves it. Or J. K. Rowling saying she should write the Harry Potter books for free because she enjoys it.

If you don’t believe you are worth what you are charging, it is unlikely that a lot of people are going to hire you based on those fees. You need to resonate fully with the prices you are setting so that others will resonate with them as well. To do so, you may need to work on shifting your beliefs so that you feel more comfortable with charging higher fees, rather than lowering your fees to eliminate the discomfort.

The Book Yourself Solid paradigm of sales is all about building relationships with your potential clients on the basis of trust. It is, quite simply, about having a sincere conversation that allows you to let your potential clients know what you can do to help them. You aren’t manipulating or coercing people into buying something they have no real need or desire to buy. You’re making them aware of something you offer that they already need, want, or desire. Thinking in terms of solutions and benefits is the ah-ha to the selling process. It’s the key to shifting your perspective. It’s so foolproof you’ll never think of the selling process the same way again. When you think in terms of solutions and problems solved, clients will beg to work with you. You are a consultant, a lifelong advisor. When you have fundamental solutions and a desire to help others, it becomes your moral imperative to show and tell as many people as possible. You are changing lives!

One of the reasons that so many sales conversations are unsuccessful is because they’re had at the wrong time—usually too soon—before you’ve earned the proportionate amount of trust needed for the offer being made. Plus, your clients buy when it’s right for them—when something occurs in their life or business that compels them to hire you. If these two factors, trust and timing, come together at just the right moment, you’ll have a successful sales conversation and book the business.

This simple four-step process is the secret to the Book Yourself Solid system. 1. You execute a few of the 7 Core Self-Promotion strategies, which create awareness for what you have to offer. 2. When a potential client becomes aware of your services she’ll take a look at your foundation. If it looks secure, if she feels comfortable stepping onto it, she’ll give you the opportunity to earn her trust—but only the opportunity. She’s not necessarily going to hire you right then and there. She needs some time to consider the consequences before she will actually trust you. 3. That’s when your plan to build trust and credibility comes into play. As a potential client moves through your sales cycle, she will come to like you, trust you, and find you credible. 4. When her circumstances dictate that she needs the kind of help you provide, she’ll raise her hand and ask you to have a sales conversation. You have a sales conversation the Book Yourself Solid way and book the business.

When a potential client expresses interest in working with you, open with a simple question . . . Part 1: What are you working on? Or, what is your goal? Or, what are you trying to achieve? Once you feel certain you know what he wants to accomplish and by when, simply ask . . . Part 2: How will you know when you have achieved it? What results will you see? What feedback will you hear? What feelings will you have? Once you feel like the potential client has clearly articulated these benefits, make sure he is fully in the hiring frame of mind, and then ask . . . Part 3: Would you like someone to help you with that (achieve your goal, and so forth)? If he says, “no,” wish him the best of luck and keep in touch with him. If he says, “yes,” then offer . . . Part 4: Would you like that person to be me? Because, you know, you are my ideal client. (To which he’ll say, “What do you mean?” because no one has ever said that to him before.) Well, you are someone with whom I do my best work. (He’ll ask “why?” and you’ll tell him . . .) Because you are . . . (Here is where you list the qualities that make him who he is and allow you to do your best work.) As you’re listing these qualities you’ll see his face brighten as he sits up straight and says, “Wow. That is so me! Thank you for noticing.” You’ll say, “So shall we look at our calendars to plan a time to get started?” And, the answer will be . . . drumroll, please . . . “Absolutely, yes!”

Start small, end big, and remember—successful selling is really nothing more than showing your potential clients how you can help them to live a happier, more successful life.

People don’t buy because you want them to. And rarely do they buy because of a sales pitch or something clever you said to persuade them.

I’m certain you care about what you do: the people you serve, the services you sell, and the reputation you’ve earned. You wouldn’t be reading this book if you didn’t. Do not let your guard down for one second. Think bigger about who you are and how you will serve your clients. When you keep your focus and maintain your integrity, you’ll never, ever, be put in the same category as those stereotypical, shady, smooth-talking, handlebar-mustache-twirling, sleazeball “salesmen” ready to screw over the next poor sap just to take home the commission. Your service is important to the world. You are important to the world. Cut the crap out of selling and set yourself apart.

Note: Give each of these three intangibles freely and with no expectation of return. After all, that’s how love is meant to operate, too. While it may seem calculated to plan a strategy around them, the fact remains that when you’re smart, friendly, and helpful, people will like you, will enjoy being around you, and will remember you when they or someone they know needs your services.

Think about it: Whom do you want to give your business to or recommend to other members of your network? It’s the people who have served you in some way; the people who are friendly, nice, smart, and helpful; the people who will go the extra mile, give that little bit more than anyone expects, and who genuinely strive to provide the best service they can with integrity. It’s the people who are upbeat, always have a ready smile, and from whom you walk away feeling supported and energized.

Everywhere you go you’re running into, meeting, and connecting with other people. What if you always had a book in your hand that allowed you to share what you know about your particular area of expertise, for the betterment of the person you’re talking with? I know that not every person you meet or run into is a member of your target market, or at first thought, can send you clients, but it doesn’t matter. You’re just finding opportunities to add value to those you meet by sharing what you know—as long as it’s relevant to them.

In a business like yours that is based on service, people will generally not hire you unless they feel you have compassion for what they’re going through. Expressing that compassion is the first step to a successful working relationship. How do you do that? Listen attentively. Be fully present when making connections, smile as often as possible, make eye contact, and ask engaging, open-ended questions that express your curiosity and interest.

Always have a pen with you. When you receive a business card, write a little note about any commitment to follow up, what you talked about, any personal bits or unusual things that will help you to remember the person and to personalize future contact, and be sure to include the date and name of the function where you met.

Don’t complain about networking or the event you’re attending. Don’t complain about anything. The cycle of complaining is easy to get drawn into, especially at events where almost everyone is a bit uncomfortable. While complaining is an icebreaker, it’s not an attractive one.

the prospect of creating a phenomenal network of connections doesn’t have to be overwhelming or intimidating. We all connect constantly, with everyone, every day. Now we just need to do it consciously, with greater awareness, until doing so becomes a natural and comfortable part of our daily lives.

For example, everyone says when you meet people at a networking event you’re supposed to look that person in the eye, give them a firm handshake, smile, and nod your head, but if you do that and don’t take the giver’s stance, it won’t matter how slick you are. However, if you always take the giver’s stance and share who you know, what you know, and how you feel, even if you have spinach in your teeth and your palm is sweaty, you’ll be fine, because people are going to respond to who you are as a human being. In fact, they’ll share their compassion with you by gently letting you know about the large piece of spinach entrenched between your two front teeth.

Here, this woman, asked to friend me. Of course, my Facebook page explains what I do and lists all four of my books. So perhaps it’s just my ego talking, but one would hope that she would make a little effort to, at least, scan the page—do a little homework on me. And, I think that’s the rub. We all have some ego around something. To fast forward the process and ask for business without building some foundation is more than just ineffective, it’s a turnoff.

in my acting days, I recall blowing auditions because I was trying to knock it out of the park. Instead of focusing on getting the callback, I was focusing on getting the part. What I should have done was focus on getting the callback. Then, once I had the callback, work on getting the second callback. Then, once I had the second callback, work to get the producer’s meeting. Once I had the producer’s meeting, work to get the screen test, and so on. I want you to do the same thing with your direct outreach. Take it one step at a time and you’ll do fine, and it will feel more authentic to you.

You can do a lot to grab attention, but attention is only valuable if it shows you off in a light that’s flattering.

You can create the opportunity for a referral conversation by: Thanking clients for their energy and enthusiasm during your session or project. Clarifying their goals or making a suggestion to work on their own. Asking clients how they are feeling about the work you’re doing together or about past challenges. Complimenting clients on their progress—always. Once you get clients talking, ask them about the value they get from your sessions. Use this as an open door to have them talk about how your services could benefit other people or organizations they have relationships with.

Do you dig business books? Check out my “must read” book list.