My parents and a favorite aunt used to say “reading and math are the common thread” for success – a common denominator if you will. I became a voracious reader and my math skills were pretty decent, although I could never figure out what the practical application of knowing geometry really is! Anyway, I want to propose something that is not necessarily new and will not make me the next guru of whatever. It is an overdue reinforcement of reality. The common thread – the actual behavior that separates the good from the great and the successful from the mediocre is ability to connect your ability to do something with how it’s going to make another life better. It’s your ability to convince, influence and sell. And do it without apologizing. Go on and sell me – it’s your right. I have made my career on showing people how everyone is in sales. And it’s not optional anymore.
What got me to thinking is how astonished (and frightened) I am about how complacent we become once we get settled in whatever we are doing. A new job or business opportunity. That complacency comes way too easily and we lose that edge and realization that the selling can’t stop. You know I’m right. We get so busy that we forget that we still have to sell ourselves every single day. It’s so easy to think “everyone knows what I do….”. Every interaction you have with someone is your opportunity to influence and build relationships with people who keep could keep you top of mind. To the point I recently met with a colleague who graciously offered to make some introductions to people on my behalf. Ironically one individual was someone I had met a few years earlier when he was in transition. Today he is apparently in a good job. His reaction to the proposed introduction from my colleague? “Please don’t bother me with people trying to market themselves”. Needless to say both my colleague and I were shocked. This man forgot that just a few years earlier, he was trying to market himself – yes he had to sell himself. Apparently his new title and his hubris got in the way and he forgot that salient point. I hope he keeps his job.
Here are five things to remember:
- Complacency kills. Once you settle somewhere, the selling doesn’t stop. Ever.
- Just because you get it doesn’t mean someone else does. Take the time to explain, reinforce and influence. Win me once and you have me forever. Build the bridge and show me how what you are proposing or talking about will help me be better
- Get to the point. The wind up can be painful.
- If I ask, then I want to know and that means sell me.
- Be open and available. Think of the example I talk about above.
- Technical brilliance counts – and is meaningless if you can’t sell it.
The moral of the story is simple. The common denominator (and winner by knockout) for success is STILL, always has been and forever will be your ability to sell yourself and now possess the awareness (sans hubris) to know it. Embrace this and you will succeed. Deny it and watch others zoom right past you.