Making an Impact

making-an-impactAre you familiar with that feeling of pressure to make a sale or accumulate new prospects? The next thing you know, we become so busy trying to drum up business, and we focus more on the act of finding clients than the art of creating authentic connections.

We rush into the marketplace or public events unprepared, making sure we are seen…and the more places the better, right? Visibility does not equal credibility. We need to ask different questions. Are we being remembered? Have we made an impact on those we meet? Forget making an impact, we haven’t even made a ripple.

Networking meetings, mixers, lunch and learns, the list of ways we connect with the masses to market our products and services seems never-ending at times.

Showing up, passing out a few business cards with a slick, “Let’s do lunch.” before you duck out to head back to the office to try to find other people to get in front of simply won’t bring you the results you are so urgently want. Your potential customers are savvy and they want to know that you “get” them, that you care and that they are not merely helping you meet your quota or paying your bills.

While it’s always been important, today more than ever it is imperative to be prepared. Not just to attend social events, we need to interact with and engage our prospects and clients. This is true whether it be in face to face situations or online. For the sake of this chapter, we’ll look at face to face interactions.

There are several areas in which we need to be prepared:

  • Knowing our market-obviously we don’t want to show up at a mixer for shoe salesmen if our market is medical equipment suppliers.
  • Knowing our products and services-being able to spot a need and offer the solution results in a win-win for everyone.
  • Having the proper tools on hand-business cards, websites, marketing collateral, a camera (you never know who you’ll run into), and something to jot down notes (electronically or with an actual pen & paper is fine).

You may look at the list and pat yourself on the back. You’ve got these areas covered. So why aren’t you making more money? Why isn’t your network growing? Where are the collaborative partners?

The solution may surprise you.

Over and over I have seen that the most important area that requires preparation goes back to our earliest social interactions. Minding our manners and understanding that it’s not about us is the key.

It’s not about me? But I have to make money.

Think back over the last 30 days. Who are the people who made an impression on you? Chances are, they are the ones who were more interested in you than they were in pushing their own agenda. They may have asked genuine questions, not to prompt you to feel your pain and thus a need for their wonder widget, but because they really wanted to get to know you.

Well, isn’t that just building rapport?

Absolutely. I’m so glad you recognize it. You probably didn’t feel guarded like you were about to be “sold to” and you may have felt a bit of a relief. And more than likely you walked away thinking “What a nice person. Now to get back to this networking thing.

In its simplest form, we just need to go out, make friends and find out how we can help people.

Oh good. You mean help them by getting them to buy my products to fill their needs, right?

Absolutely not. You’ll deliver your brief introduction of who you are and what you do-and I do mean brief, remember, it’s just an introduction not a marriage proposal. Then the real fun begins.

Find out what they are interested in, what they’re working on, who they would like to meet. Of course you don’t want to fire off these questions rapid-fire or it will feel more like an inquisition

Why do I want to know these things?

Once you know some of these things about them…Be a connector.

Connect them with someone at the event that may be able to be a resource. Give the name or number of a colleague or a great restaurant. Connect them with people, places or things they are looking for.

But how in the world is that going to help me make money?

If it’s true that it takes people at least 7 exposures to you or your offering, doesn’t it make sense to create enjoyable exposures? Connecting them with a solution to any one of the areas they shared a need for will pleasantly remind them of you and your willingness to add value to their lives…without expecting at thing in return.

This sounds great, but then what?

If this is someone you would like to get to know better, let them know it. Something like the following exchange has worked wonders for many of my clients.

“Thanks for spending time with me today, Elijah. It’s been great getting to know you. Would it be okay if I give you a call towards the middle of next week to set up a time for us to have a cup of coffee and find out how we may be able to support one another?”

No pressure, just a friendly open request to continue the relationship. You’ve also let them know that you are looking for a mutually beneficial relationship. Notice that you don’t say “how we can work together.” You’ve removed the fear of them being blindsided with a 3 hour presentation of your “super spectacular, shiny new widget that will change their lives forever and ever amen.” Sorry, that was a flashback of a meeting I was invited to…*sigh*

Fabulous. So now I suppose I really have to follow up? You know my phone weighs 75 pounds, right?

Make it easy. Remember to only offer to follow up if you truly intend to. If it’s not someone you want to connect with, please don’t give them lip service and let it fall by the wayside. That, my friend, also affects your credibility.

When it is someone you want to connect with and you have promised to call, it’s much easier to live up to your word. It goes something like this:

“Hey Elijah, if you recall we met at the ABC function last week & I promised to call to set up a time for us to get together and find out how we might be able to support one another. Let’s compare schedules and see what we can come up with.”

That’s it. No Slick Rick, sly moves to manipulate them. Just open, honest dialogue.

In summary, making a positive impact is more than providing your services and products as a solution. Real people want to connect with real people. They want to be treated with respect. Kinda the way you want to be treated, right?


Teresa Cleveland



This is a sample chapter taken from the business book, Business, Business, Business! Available from Amazon.


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