What is the difference between those who create truly loyal fans and those who get ostracised by the very community they are trying to engage?
How is it, that even though we may have competitors who are far less intelligent, capable and competent than us, have raging success and a tribe of dedicated followers who simply adore them – and we don’t? The difference is, that they have realised that people buy ‘us’ – not our products and services. People buy who we are BEING, not what we are DOING.
The secret is in the way we build our networks and in particular, HOW we make those people FEEL about themselves when we communicate with them (directly or indirectly).
There is a well known story about Jennie Jerome, who was Winston Churchill’s mother. When she was asked about having dinner with two men (Gladstone and Disraeli), she said –
“When I left the dining room after sitting next to Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest man in England. But when I sat next to Disraeli I left feeling that I was the cleverest woman in England.”
Guess who won the hearts of the nation during this time?
As experts in our field, it is important for us to lead with authority. Afterall, weak leaders have a weak following. However, how we make people feel when we are leading with authority is something we must pay very careful attention to if we wish to be a leader that is liked. For Edupreneurs, getting this balance right can be a real challenge, as the very reason the majority of our audience come to us, is because they are seeking skills and knowledge from us – but if we communicate that in a manner that makes our students feel ignorant, incompetent and of lesser significance than us, we immediately lose their business AND our reputation.
We have all modelled what ‘leadership’ is based on that which we have been directly exposed to, or been led like others. Unfortunately, this isn’t always a good thing.
I don’t know about you, but I can think of teachers, kids club leaders and bosses in my past who not only crushed every ounce of soul in my body, but also made me feel nothing but hatred, disgust and utter repulsion towards them. Can you? Would you call these people ‘leaders worth following?’. I think not.
As a real life example, very recently I was scrolling through Facebook and came across a public status of a stranger.
Their status was about how they were thinking of creating an online course – my absolute passion.
Naturally, I saw an opportunity to help and offered some advice for online course creation. What happened next was nothing short of shocking.
The response to my advice and freely given support was to be mocked, sworn at and abused, not just by the person who had written the status about creating a course, but by a number of her friends too.
Turns out this person had created online courses before so totally knew what she was doing – on account of that, my advice was a bit like serving her up a big fat plate of lemons to suck on. **Awkward**.
However, do you think her response made me want to do business with her? To give my money to her? and importantly to be led by her?
About as much as I’d like to perform a lobotomy on myself.
Even worse than just losing just me as a customer, because her post was public, my commenting on it meant that it showed up in MY newsfeed for all of my thousands of friends and followers to see too.
Within minutes my inbox – as well as groups that I am a member of – were plagued by connections of mine who had seen the response to my freely given support – let’s just say that none of them are going to turn into her customers either. OUCH.
Because people buy who you are being, not what work you are doing.
I tell this story because it is very important for us as leaders and educators and people who are aspiring to become authorities in our industry that we must be very aware that who we are being is more important than what work we are doing.
Every time we speak and communicate with others online we are building our brand.
Our brand is who we are.
Our brand is how people feel when they communicate with us.
If we want to become successful industry leaders, if we want to build a following of people that like us and buy from us consistently; if we want people to share our work, celebrate our successes and encourage others to follow us too, then we must be very aware of who we are being – because people by us, they don’t buy what we sell.
I was recently in attendance at what can only be described as quite a life-changing conference in San Diego in October organised by Cole Hatter and his family. Thrive had 26 of the world’s most incredible leaders and speakers.
One of the speakers, Jordan Harbinger talked about this very point in his talk, which was called “People Buy You”.
Here are some of the key things that I pulled out from Jordan’s talk and interpreted in my own way, that as educators, Edupreneurs and leaders, we must never forget if we would like to be successful and loved along the way:
1.Networking creates opportunities – success often does come down to who you know
Need a book launch to go well?
Want your blog post shared?
Want to build partnerships with people with huge lists?
Want to get connected to an influencer?
Whatever it is that you are looking for is much easier to obtain when you know someone, who knows someone. That’s a fact.
The thing is, how can you expect people to do you any kind of favours, if they don’t like you?
I have found in my 11 years in business, from my own experiences trying to build my profile from nothing, and from many who have contacted me to ask for my help when they’ve just started out; I can categorically say that help is not handed to you based on how many people you know, or how many people are on your list, or how influential you are.
Help is handed to you based on whether you’re a nice person or not.
Help his handed to you because you are genuine, kind, considerate, enthusiastic and clearly willing to help those individuals back if they ever needed a favour returned.
I see so many business owners and entrepreneurs who are using the excuse that they have no money, that they have no connections, that they have no list as the reason why they are not yet successful or the reason why they are not yet putting 100% effort into achieving their dreams.
Time and time again I share my story of how going from homeless to having a 7 figure business within 18 months was no lucky strike for me. I had no money, I had no supporters, I had no investors, I didn’t even have a mobile phone – let alone a phone number to call! Jeez, I didn’t even have a HOME! Yet I managed to succeed and I put this purely down to the fact that I was willing to build relationships with people.
I was willing to bare my soul and make friends.
I was willing to be helpful and give my time, my friendship and put my hands to use.
The saying ‘it’s all about who you know’ is absolutely true. However please keep in mind that it does not mean how many ‘high and influential rich people you know’.
It means ‘how many relationships’ you have made regardless of their status.
2.When you give without expectation, rewards come back tenfold
We’ve all heard the saying that ‘giving is receiving’ and this is very much true in the world of Edupreneurship. You don’t have to have a lot to give, in order to gain a lot back.
You can share somebody’s post, you can leave a positive comment, you can recommend them to someone seeking their products or services. You could give them one of your products or services, offer to help them run one of their future events – there are so many ways that you can give to others. When you offer unexpectedly without any expectation of reciprocated favours you will be amazed at how far this will stay in the memory of those you helped.
Not only does it make you feel good. From my own experience, unexpected gifts come back to you especially in the form of love, gratitude and support which to me is the greatest gift of all. No money, position or status can possibly trump the feeling of being loved and liked by others.
3.You are wasting time if you do not act immediately when opportunities present themselves to connect with, or meet new people
For a lot of people, the thought of networking fills them with so much dread that they’d rather knock their own teeth out to see the dentist than go to ‘networking’.
As human beings anything that is new and unfamiliar instinctively generates fear inside us – it’s a natural instinctive response to protect us from prospective danger.
This is why when we are faced with meeting new people for the first time we can sometimes feel nervous, shy and embarrassed – because we don’t want people to judge us, think little of us or dislike us. Whether we consciously realise it or not, our body releases chemicals to make us feel deterred by that situation.
However if we are limiting the relationships and friendships that we’re building, we are directly limiting our success and our potential, so we must learn to push through this fear, discomfort and dislike of networking if we wish to gain formidable success.
Everything in business is about people
People buy people, not products.
People follow people, not marketing copy.
People love people, not branding and services.
You can hide behind your emails and your beautifully designed website all you like, but if you stop building relationships your success will curl up and die.
Therefore grab every opportunity that presents itself to build a new relationship you don’t have to go ‘all out’ to meet up with someone for coffee. In fact, I’d go as far as saying be careful about how you are investing your time – Think wisely about how you build these relationships; a quick phone call, or a few messages in chat thread can be enough to make a friendship start.
The only way to make those fear chemicals in our body subside is to show your body that there is nothing to fear – just new friends that you haven’t made yet to go and meet.
People will want to help you when they feel emotionally connected to your mission
Share freely and passionately about what you care about and what you are trying to achieve
I started my business working in the corporate space (business to business). My clients included the federal government, educational institutions and large industry bodies. I started my business at the wise old age of 19 years old and I was a blonde-headed female with a fresh-faced grin from ear to ear.
Naturally this meant that I didn’t have that immediate heir of authority when I walked into large corporate boardrooms to present my training proposals. I felt like I had no choice but to be someone that I wasn’t in order to ‘survive’ and ‘prove that I could do it’.
It was stifling oppressive.
As I moved through the ebbs and flows of business sometimes high, sometimes low, I felt like I would lose my credibility if I did share any of the lows I went through. I was worried that I would look ‘incompetent’ if I dared share my entrepreneurial challenges and human nature.
I worked hard to conceal the cracks and silently suffered as I tried to paint a picture of perfection.
I didn’t notice that as I filtered out all of my failings and only shared my wins and successes in the pure attempt to look ‘professional’ and ‘good at my job’, I was actually slowly building a bigger and bigger wall of unapproachability.
The ‘successes’ that I thought was going to make people feel inspired, just made people feel like I was ‘nothing like them’, ‘inhuman’ – even intimidating and egotistical. I had no idea.
Then one day, I’d had a particularly bad day in business. The Government had unexpectedly retracted a budget that funded almost my entire client base and I lost everything overnight.
$2.7million in contracts, my office, 23 staff and a 6 figure tax debt that now couldn’t be paid. It sucked.
Like most level-headed entrepreneurs, my immediate response to this situation was to have a deep and meaningful few weeks with a bottle of wine.
Eventually I ran out of self-pity and with nothing to lose, I decided to share with the world what was going on. I held nothing back.
I told the shameful, gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, credibility-destroying full story right there on Facebook. I don’t know why I did, but I did.
The response blew my mind.
The messages of love and support came flooding in. Recognition, acknowledgement and celebration poured in all around me.
It quickly became apparent that my image of perfection and constant success made me look so different from everyone that was around me, that nobody could relate to me at all. Everyone just thought that my life was perfect and that therefore they could not aspire to be me.
Since sharing my royal stuff-ups and disasters, my following has grown, my connection with others has increased dramatically, my friendships are endless and the media love having me as a guest – all because struggle is much easier for people to relate to than constant success.
People don’t buy your success, people buy you.
To buy you, they need to know who you are; they need to know your story and they need to know that they are like you too.
One of the greatest components of all of our favourite movies and books is that the hero is the one that is most like us. If we could not relate to the hero then we would not be able to idolize them or aspire to be like them.
I have found that the more I share my story – the highs, the lows the bits in between; the more human I am.
Importantly, I found that it doesn’t need to be a great story of some magnificent feat.
You don’t have to have climbed Mount Everest with a goat on your back to be admired by others; you simply have to show that you are human.
LOVE, JOY, EXCITEMENT, FEAR, TREPIDATION…. All emotions help you connect with your audience – allow your audience to ‘feel’ you by sharing your journey as you go.
Don’t be afraid to share your stories – the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s the only way to get everyone cheering with you when the happy ending comes.
What is your story?
How did you get where you are?
What challenges have you been through or are you going through?
Do not feel fearful about sharing this with others.
People buy you – not what you do.
Dig the well before you are thirsty
This means creating friendships long before you need anything from them and they will be there for you when you do.
Always be generous
I live by this one as so many people have helped me when I’ve been down on my luck.
I started from scratch like most entrepreneurs and found myself starting from scratch a couple of times after – there is no way I would have any of what I do today if other people hadn’t shown me such generosity.
I had complete strangers give me a sofa to sleep on, put food in my belly, give me an internet connection to use, even borrow a car.
The generosity shown by these people will never ever be forgotten and when the time comes that they need a favour I would give them everything I have in return.
But this point isn’t just about being generous to those who have helped you – this is about being generous day in, day out to people you don’t even know, or for no particular reason other than that you have something to give.
I’m not I’m not selective about who I help – I give my advice freely to those who are long term unemployed and homeless and to multi billionaires.
Give give give give.
Giving makes recipients grateful, thankful, fond of you and also feel like they owe you one back; and you just never know how that reciprocation may unfold.
Generosity is the currency of networking
People only have three things to say about you to others:
- They like you
- They dislike you
- They have no idea who you are
When you give to others, you are only giving them something to sing your praises about.
You must give and ask for help – if you don’t ask for it people cannot give it to you
A fundamental human need is to feel like we have a purpose; and that often comes from giving, providing and helping others.
You can actually create fans by asking for them help.
When people feel wanted and needed, they feel good.
You will be amazed how many people want to help you if you ask them.
Never be afraid to ask for help, direction, advice and guidance you’ll be amazed at what can come back.
- Be the connector – if you know people that can benefit from connecting with someone else, introduce them to each other
- Use the ‘Benjamin Franklin’ method to your advantage – this is all about asking people for their advice or recommendation when you meet them. EG if you’re going to a new town or location, reach out to someone and ask a recommendation for their favourite bar or restaurant. You never know, they may end up offering to show you around themselves.
Who are you who are you being?
Who do you want to be seen as?
What impression what impression are you painting of the kind of person that you are?
do you come across as a likeable, lovable, friendly, approachable person that others would like to be friends with?
What can you do today to start being more likeable?
What can you do to build better relationships with others today?
I hope this has helped you take a closer look at how you are painting a picture of yourself in the public domain and how you can better build relationships and wider networks of people who love you.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – tag me on Twitter @CordinerSarah or start a discussion in my Facebook group ‘Entrepreneur to Edupreneur’; and of course please do share this with anyone you feel may benefit from it.
Whilst this article is written in my own words, I would like to acknowledge, celebrate and credit the incredible Mr Jordan Harbinger who’s talk ‘People Buy You‘ at Thrive 2016, inspired this post and all of my thoughts within it.
If you EVER get a chance to see him, attend one of his events or work with him – GRAB IT. He truly is inspirational and as delightful and charming in person as he comes across online and in his podcasts. He has certainly made a fan of me.
More about Jordan Harbinger:
Jordan Harbinger has always had an affinity for social influence, interpersonal dynamics, and social engineering, helping private companies test the security of their communications systems and working with law enforcement agencies before he was even old enough to drive.
Forbes named him one of the 50 best relationship-builders anywhere and Inc. Magazine calls him “the Charlie Rose of Podcasting.”
Jordan has spent several years abroad in Europe and the developing world, including South America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East, and speaks five languages. He has also worked for various governments and NGOs overseas, traveled through war zones, and been kidnapped — twice. The only reason he’s still alive and kicking is because of his ability to talk his way into (and out of) just about any type of situation. Here at The Art of Charm, Jordan shares that experience, and the system borne as a result, with students and clients.
FIND JORDAN AT:
About Sarah Cordiner:
Huffington Posts’ ‘Top 50 Must-Follow Female Entrepreneur for 2017’. 11 years in business & education, over 6,000 students in 121 countries and multiple awards – Sarah combines education and entrepreneurship as the EDUpreneur’s internationally acclaimed leader in ‘profitably educating your marketplace’. A two-times international number 1 best-selling author, TV host, qualified educator and professional speaker.’
I can help you create your courses, set-up your online school and conduct your course marketing: www.sarahcordiner.com/services