In today's face-paced world of digital media, no matter if we work for an agency or innovative platform, cutting through the clutter and just getting noticed is hard enough. Making the sale, completing a successful pitch, or even getting your foot in the door is becoming evermore difficult. To win friends and influence people today, we need to be the exception to the norm, build better relationships, stand out further, and charm our way to working with and keeping the ultimate client.
"Something of the sense of holiness on islands comes, I think, from this strange, elastic geography. Islands are made larger, paradoxically, by the scale of the sea that surrounds them. The element which might reduce them, which might be thought to besiege them, has the opposite effect. The sea elevates these few acres into something they would never be if hidden in the mass of the mainland. The sea makes islands significant."
- Adam Nicolson, "Sea Room"
The brain is designed to notice the variation, the divergence, the inconsistency, the disturbance, that one thing, no matter how small, that doesn't belong. It's a primal reaction that has been engrained into the human psyche over thousands of years. You need to become that exception -- charm and enchant your prospects and build better relationships with your clients.
Basics for being charming
Get your life in order
Unless you have some award-winning acting skills under your belt, you need to get your own backyard in order before you can be a charming individual. It's hard to be a charismatic if you have problems weighing you down at home, be it relationships, finances, work, family issues, grudges with others, health problems etc. To be able to enchant others, you need to feel like you're on top of the world yourself. First things first, start getting your own life together, forgive and forget, start working out, set some new goals, make a career change if need be, and find a hobby or project outside of your job you are passionate about and dive in! Taking care of you and feeling great are half the battle -- the other half is focusing on the other person.
Exercise the body and the face
Exercising your body is the perfect way to get your energy levels up and make you a positive person due to the endorphins dancing around in your body. We have all been there, working late hours, and burning out finalizing a campaign or an RFP response. Start getting more exercise and you will feel like a million dollars, your confidence will increase, and you will be able to project that charming glow to your clients and colleagues. Exercising your face means smiling with the 50 muscles it takes to produce a genuine "Duchenne Smile" -- one that pushes up into your eyes and makes you squint a little bit. When you smile at people with a genuine smile, there is no other emotion that they can derive from you than happy -- and we all want to work with positive happy people right?
Dress to impress
Men and women both have the right outfit, suit, or attire that makes us feel great, when we put it on. When we feel better about ourselves, and are more self confident, we can make others feel better about themselves. This is what being charismatic is all about. In his book "Enchantment," Guy Kawasaki puts it best when he says you want to, "Dress for a tie... Overdressing says, I'm richer, more powerful, and more important than you. Under-dressing says, I don't respect you and I'll dress any way that I please. Equal dressing says: We're peers." Know your audience and do your best to match the proper attire for the situation. This may be the exception to the rule for being an island and standing out.
Don't let them shake your hand, shake their hand
It all starts with a handshake, good eye contact, and that famous smile. Good handshakes are composed of a firm grip and a good pump. They are not to overzealous, only lasting two to three seconds, and are sincere, but standing back at a moderate distance. When shaking hands, or in general conversation, be sure to look the other person in the eye at all times, even if they look away. Since you are meeting them to sincerely want to talk to them, you must stay focused and attentive. This is also a perfect time to remember peoples names -- repeat their name back to them -- "Nice to meet you, Bill" -- when you meet them and when you finish your conversation. This will make people feel like you like them and open things up for getting to know them better.
The subject of them
Be genuinely interested in the people you are connecting with. Dependant on the situation you are in and the company you work for, people you connect with may not know or care who you are, who your company is, what your company stands for, who your customers are, or your reputation. By learning more about the people you want to charm, the better prepared you will be to ask the right questions to get them talking about themselves. People like to hear themselves talk, and love to talk about themselves, their company, campaigns, or projects they have worked on. The more they talk about themselves, their company, projects, goals, or family, the better chance you will have to build a real connection with them. When the topic turns back to you, share a relevant story or case study and then engage them by asking another question about themselves. In my experience, one in 20 people ask the right questions first, the other 19 just jump into a sales pitch that may or may not be relevant at all -- this opens up a great opportunity to stand out as the one who engaged first and "sold" second.
Don't treat those under you poorly and praise others
Drop the gossip and treat the underlings you come across with respect. The business environment is constantly changing, and the person getting your coffee today may be deciding how the digital budget is allocated tomorrow. In the eyes of the beholder, hearsay is viewed as sincere -- so if you want to gain and maintain a reputation of trust, do your best to only speak the best of people. Praise others whenever possible, and like the old saying goes, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. If someone has truly wronged you, not speaking of them at all can truly be the more powerful thing to do in the right situations. "I have nothing to do with that individual" will make you look like the bigger person, and the people around you will be enchanted that you have the self control or lack of interest in telling the story.
Manage your online reputation
Managing your online presentation means taking care of your personal brand. First of all, our clients want to trust that we practice what we preach. We are in the digital marketing space, so let's act like it. You don't have to be a "copy-writer" to start a blog; you just need to start blogging! Fill out your LinkedIn profile, start tweeting, and be interesting! People want to work with people who are positive and interesting. Assuming we all have the benchmark smarts to keep us employed in this great industry, the only thing that will set us apart from the pact is how we personally communicate our personal brand and thought leadership.
Be the resource center
Quoting a friend of mine in her latest book "SNAP Selling," Jill Konrath tells readers, "Good messaging combined with educational resources makes you memorable and sets the stage for a valuable discussion." What does this mean? Read and consume as much information -- like iMedia Connection and the iMedia Summits provide (they didn't ask for this plug) so you are the thought leader at your agency and with your clients. This is another area to pursue your passions in and share them with your followers, blog about what interests you, cool campaigns you have seen or worked on, and new technologies that will disrupt the way things are done. People will recognize this passion, and you will be surprised how this can open up many doors for you from the people you have enchanted.
Consistently enchant all the stakeholders by providing value
Every account, campaign, pitch, and RFP is eventually reviewed by more than the one person, all whom have their own agendas and responsibilities. It's easy for us to develop a pitch for the one individual we have the strongest relationship for at an organization, but we have to ask ourselves, "Who else does the presentation need to charm and win over?"
The CMO and CFO often have different agendas, as would different divisions when working on cross platform campaigns. A charming marketer will ensure they make each of the stakeholders feel special in some way with the presentation, from the brand experience to the bottom line. Take the time before the meeting to know who (both the person and their role) will be part of the pitch process and make sure you ask yourself what they want and how you will address that.
Make sure to collect cards and take notes on each person so you can do a personal follow up via email or, if you really want to blow them away, send a hand-written card. No one does this anymore, and it certainly sets you apart. I also suggest you to invite them to LinkedIn, follow them on Twitter, and, if appropriate, add them on Facebook. You can also read my last iMedia article on personal branding to learn more about creating groups and sharing valuable content with your connections. I also suggest to people in business development roles to use keywords to tag your contacts via CRM or outlook, and then when you want to share something relevant -- be it a fishing article, new Porsche racing school opening, or trigger event in the industry -- you can easily search and connect with your contacts in a appropriate way. This is a great way to stay in touch with your prospects and clients, new and old.
The old saying that honesty is the best policy is certainly true when it comes to building trust with people. There is nothing that will turn off or ruin all the hard work you have put into a relationship than being dishonest and getting caught. It's also extremely hard to be charming when you are lying -- unless you are a sociopath.
Know what you know and what you don't know, and be honest if you need to get an answer from someone else on your team. People will respect you for not making things up. I hired a business development guy once who didn't know the first thing about the technology behind our solutions, but he was the most charming and honest guy I have ever known. Half the time he had client meetings, he would bring a developer in with him, but he excelled more in signing new accounts than anyone else in that position past or to date has. I have also learned that it's OK to tell people "I respect the work you are doing. I don't know what we can work on together right now, but would love to stay in touch" when meeting influential people. Personally, this level of transparency has opened up new relationships and opportunities from international speaking engagements to book launch parties at Arianna Huffington's home.
Never eat alone
This title is homage to my friend and the most connected man in the world, Keith Ferrazzi, according to Forbes and Inc. "Never Eat Alone" is the title of his first best-selling book. The first 10 steps outlined in this article should be a good starting point for things to consider. At the end of the day, building deeper relationships based on generosity, integrity, and a genuine desire to help those around you will be what sets you apart from others. There are many capable agencies, ad networks, targeting platforms, and so on; some are better than others, but a good deal of business is won and kept based on relationships. I can't sum up the entire book in one paragraph, but the advice I can share is to get to know people better, take a genuine desire to understand their personal and professional goals, and help connect your friends with other friends that can help them. Take the time to have a coffee, lunch, or dinner with your customers and co-workers. This worked for Keith -- he became the youngest CMO of Deloitte and Starwood Hotels and Resorts. You never know where these relationships will lead!
Being charismatic isn't about being "good at" glad-handling your way through a conference, or flashing the perfect smile in a shiny suit. It's about connecting with people in a genuine manor, and caring about them. All the books in the world can't teach you how to be genuinely charming; being genuinely charming comes only through being genuine. We work in an exciting industry that lets us help consumers connect with products that can better their lives. If we wake up every day and remember that, the charisma that you are working so hard to project into the world just might spill over into your work.
"The sea makes islands significant" is another way of saying "normalcy makes the anomaly exceptional," or "monotony makes the surprising amusing," or "the mundane makes the punch line funny." Be the island. Be genuine.
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