Cross Coaching™ members thrive on dynamic debate. Titanic topics stir up a force and creative energy that stimulate minds, unleash voices, heighten hearing and mold concrete connections. This event, however, got bushwhacked! Ambushed by its own members. Why did they discount themselves and not sell themselves?
Our April 3rd, 2015 Cross Coaching™ topic was: How do you build a presence and a reputation in the market place? Does either one come first or matter more than the other?
I stirred the pot immediately. I proposed a fresh angle. Out of the 16 present, only 3 were guests. Most of us knew enough about each other to pursue this idea that the topic jolted me into proposing. Instead of members discussing how they present or market themselves and their business – to develop their reputation – I asked them to listen to how the rest of the group interpreted their presence and reputation. Gabe quickly volunteered to be the first. Thank you Gabe! His offer and my proposal got ambushed. Sabotaged. Held hostage! I decided to mentally shelve it. Let’s see where this goes, I thought, and how quickly the creative crucible – in which topics are always placed – heats up!
So, where did the discussion divert? What surfaced was how uncomfortable members were with promoting themselves.
To establish any level of presence in the market place demands promotion. Our members are mostly small business owners or work for small businesses. Yet, when networking they are limited (Cross Coaching™ doesn’t limit members) to a 30 to 60 second prepared script and rarely use it to deliberately build presence that solidifies their reputation. They discount themselves when they should sell themselves. Do you that? Most people do!
Gabe gave us a perfect example. While networking he met a photographer. He asked him that worn out question. “What do you do ?” He told Gabe he was a photographer. Gabe is a highly intelligent man and knows how to get to know you. He discovered that this was a prize-winning, acclaimed, and respected photographer who could have quickly established his presence and reputation by daring to declare that fact as his first response!
Ana Maria responded by suggesting we often tend to derail (and discount) ourselves with contaminating thoughts – such as those surfacing at this event, like being uncomfortable promoting our self. I am constantly encouraging the two ‘networking’ groups, I lead, to learn to frame themselves well. Paint a picture. Tell a story. Have a catch-phrase that’s memorable; one that boldly promotes you so that you and your message stand out. Be prepared before you enter any room to meet or network – so that you can ‘net’ real connections that profit each other.
I asked how many Cross Coaching™ members mentally prepare, before any meeting, by mindfully making internal decisions that will define their presence – rather than depend on external influences at that meeting that define their presence for them. Cathy said she does think ahead of the impression – or reputation, she wants to make before she meets others. But, like the others present, she is uncomfortable with conscious self-promotion.
I proposed that there is a fine balance between self-confident, deliberately mindful self-promotion of you and your business intended to serve the community, not just sell it something, and blatant, arrogant, chest-beating. Members still leaned on the theme that promoting themselves felt uncomfortable. They didn’t trust boldly declared credentials. They wanted to trust the person behind them though. I still believe the photographer – in a networking environment, not at a social event, should have touted his credentials first.
Greg then prompted thought by asking that if members met a high ranking military officer, with medals weighing down his jacket, would they view those visible signs of credentials as self-promotion or would they instill confidence and respect? That officer leverages on them not to boast, but to bolster confidence in the men who look to him for leadership. Why shouldn’t we leverage on our accomplishments and self-awareness of them to sell ourselves – instead of discounting ourselves?
Members strived to respond to the topic at hand with a variety of angles; by discussing their discomfort with public speaking, some shared how confident they were declaring themselves to others, some were great at saying what they do, while skirting around any sign of self-promotion. Because Cross Coaching doesn’t restrict speakers to less than a minute, an interesting dynamic emerges. When allowed to say what you do with no time constraint, you often minimize the impact of saying more by saying less. Instead, you reveal more about you than you may have intended because you wander outside of your ‘prepared elevator pitch’, ramble on and weaken your message, presence and your reputation!
And so the debate continued. Great content. Fascinating that so many present were sabotaging their ability to build a presence and a reputation by discounting self-promotion and being sold on not selling themselves instead!
It was time to end the meeting. My turn to ambush them!
It’s important to note that members didn’t know they were ambushing my proposal at the beginning of the meeting to dissect each members presence and reputation; until I faced them with the question at the close of the meeting.
I complimented everyone on a great debate then asked why nobody took up Gabe’s offer to be the first on view. Yes, I sensed the discomfort in the room when I asked members to verbalize how they saw other members across the table, but Cross Coaching™ has a reputation for dig-deeper discomforting debates. Silence. No debate. Then Greg spoke up and nailed it. Members cringed at the thought of being put in the spotlight, he said, and daring to invite critique (we demand that it be constructive). They were uncomfortable dissecting another publicly as well.
I repeat that Cross Coaching™ is all about developing your business by developing others. It’s about cross-supporting and cross-connecting across a table filled with fellow professionals; hosted by someone who cares deeply about creating a community – that has a positive impact and influence on the community. It’s also an extremely creative crucible where members must be willing to sense and express what they think and feel when group dynamics, mob mentality and the raw human need for social connection fuels the fire in that crucible!
This was an excellent event. I was pleased with the direction the members went with the topic. I saw how they saw value with that direction. I was equally pleased with the lesson everyone got when they saw how they ambushed my opening idea that emerged from the topic. And pleased with the other lesson, don’t discount what can come out of any debate – whether it goes in the direction you want or not!
When it comes to discounts, the last thing you should discount is yourself; especially in a business – or networking setting, where you are striving to quickly build presence and reputation. Promote your self!
It’s fitting to end with a quotable I wrote, relevant to what I promote at Cross Coaching™. “Don’t compare yourself to others. Declare yourself to others! ”
Peter Gibson Harry Norman Realtor, Speaker, Author, Creator of Cross Coaching™