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Your why is your anchor

When clients first come to me, they often have questions about how to run their businesses. They want more sales and want to optimize their websites and want to know the exact number of blogs to write each week.

I begin many of my sessionsby asking my clients if they know their why. I see this as fundamental — before it is time to stress out about the what and the who. Whether you’re building a website or designing business cards, your why anchors your communications. (Don’t believe me? Watch this.)

If you’re not sure of your why, block off twenty minutes to write. Don’t edit, just write. Some prompts to get you started:

  • What do you want to teach or give? What values are most important to you?
  • If you had to choose three words to describe your work, what would you pick? (Write down the first ones that come to mind.)

Once you have your why, you can start thinking about your who:

  • Who is your ideal client? What are they looking for?
  • How do they speak about themselves when no one is around?
  • What do they believe about their world?

THEN you can figure out your what…

  • Where do they spend time online? Are they listening to podcasts or reading email newsletters? Do they Instagram or Facebook? Which apps are their favorites?

If you need guidance sorting out your why, get in touch. I have limited availability but consider new coaching requests.

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“Can coaching help me?” 7 questions to ask

Is coaching worth the investment?

Coaches can be the spark plug you need to move towards goals and become more aware of sabotaging patterns. A trained coach holds you accountable, charts your progress, and cheers as you make professional and personal strides. But how do you know which coach is right for you?

Before you choose to enlist a coach for extra support, get clear on the help you’ll receive. Research your coach’s background, training, and past success. Many coaches offer a complimentary session before you commit to working with them. Use that time to better understand the training and offerings of this professional. Here are a few questions you can start with:

Have you worked with other professionals in my industry?

Do you have a process for your work with clients?

How would you describe your coaching style?

What can I do to get the most out of our time together?

What is the most common struggle you see with clients?

Tell me about a time you helped a client and felt proud of their progress.

Do you provide outside resources — books, podcasts, worksheets?

Have you worked with a coach? Let me know @redheadlefthand.

Draft your dream team

As the coach of your life, be sure these players are on your team:

The Mentor – This is a person you respect and admire, someone who’s “been there.” You see their life and think “That’s what I want.” These people remind you to look at the big picture.

An Advisee – Someone you mentor. They are eager to learn from you and respect your work. Your willingness to teach them and spend time with them reaffirms your own knowledge and skills, even reminding you where you’ve come from and lessons you’ve learned along the way.

Your Advocate – No matter what circumstance you find yourself in, you need people who fight for you and honor what you stand for.

Supporting Star – You challenge each other to become the best you can be. You compare notes, support each other, and get competitive when it’s beneficial. This could be a colleague or friend, someone you feel comfortable delegating work to or can trust to help when you unexpectedly head out of town.

A Neutral – This is someone who can provide an outside perspective when needed, a person with no direct investment in your life or work.

The Wildcard – The Wildcard is just that, wild. Someone in an industry completely different than your own, an energy that keeps you on your toes and brings you new ideas and experiences.

The people around you can make the difference between pushing beyond your limits and settling for less. Find those who motivate, inspire, and encourage you to do better.

Modified from this post, March 2013.

5 tips necessary to sell any product or service

The ability to sell is a skill necessary in most organizations. From healthcare to advertising, the ability to communicate your worth or the value of your services is essential to close any deal. But there is more to good salespeople than the ability to spin words.

  1. Don’t take rejection personally.

You will hear “no.” Keep going anyway. Selling takes time. Act professional throughout the process; when you’re on fire and can’t seem to lose, act professional. When you can’t seem to sell anything and can’t seem to win, act professional. Stack odds in your favor for a later time.

  1. Play the long game.

Focus on the results that you want, not on any one specific activity. Check in with yourself regularly to make sure your daily decisions are setting you up to achieve your business and sales goals. Keep a record book: Track the emails you send, who you speak to, and when you have promised to call.

  1. Lead with honesty.

Be a real person. Get to know your clients and customers. Ask questions. Do research. Only after you have gotten to know the person sitting across from you can you tailor your messages and sales pitch accordingly. Stories have power, but only if they are relevant.

  1. Go above and beyond.

Under promise, over deliver. Look for ways to provide extra service or care. Small, thoughtful actions reassure customers that they have made the right choice. Demonstrate your appreciation with a short note or useful gift.

  1. Take care.

Selling is often more about you than it is about your customer. Life isn’t only work; take care of your health and your mental state so you can shine from the inside out. People are attracted to kind, nice people. Be one of those people.

You are the foundation for your sales success. Take responsibility for it.

For more helpful sales tips, check out Greg Gore’s 101 Ways to Succeed in Selling.

Top 5 posts (an anniversary special)

In March 2012, I began this blog as a way to encourage empathy, prompt curiosity of others, and push networking conversations into something more meaningful than the pass-out-business-cards-conferences and set up fifteen-minute-coffee-dates situations I kept finding myself in.

Since that time, my writings have brought many interesting people to me. I have been fortunate to share my thoughts and observations with many of you and host private networking dinners in New York. From communications to branding, entrepreneurial adventures and challenges, questions and musings, I am honored by the emails I receive in support of my work.

To celebrate this anniversary, I present my top 5 most popular posts:

5. No one has it figured out

4. What brings people together?

3. The path in front of you

2. 5 rules of hustling

1. 12 questions to turn small talk into real talk 

As always, thank you for reading and thank you for sharing.