I got an email out of the blue this past Monday. Well, not really “out of the blue.” It was from somebody I know. But it was unexpected, nonetheless.
It came from Abigail (not her real name), a small business owner and woman I’ve known for at least ten years. Maybe closer to fifteen.
We live in the same town but rarely bump into each other. And yet our paths intersect here and there. I’ve had coffee with her mom. She hired my daughter as an intern one summer. Our sons play lacrosse.
And so a couple of weeks ago, we got together for coffee at the local Starbucks. No agenda, and no explicit purpose other than to shoot the breeze for an hour.
Among other things, she mentioned that her company was rebranding.
Among other things, I mentioned that as part of the range of “marketing stuff” I do for clients, writing is my primary skill and passion.
And that was it. Have a great day; see you again soon. Until Monday. That’s when she wrote this:
So, as I mentioned and in coincidence … we are working on our website and are seeking support on editorial copy. I am wondering if you would be interested in talking to us about joining our team for this endeavor? Let me know what you think.
What do I think? I think absolutely.
Casual coffee catch-ups and endless possibilities
Abigail is more or less the embodiment of my perfect client: Smart, successful, powerful, female, relationship-oriented, knows her small business inside and out and is in it for more than just the money.
So here are a few things I’d like you to notice:
I didn’t have an ulterior motive
I wasn’t trying to get hired on the day we met. I was just looking for a cup of coffee and some conversation. But, because we connected on a personal level and have stayed in touch over time, I came to mind when her website project came up.
Coincidence? Sure, she even said so in her email. But coincidence and dumb luck are not the same things. If you stay in touch with enough people regularly, some of them are going to refer or hire you.
Likability matters, like it or not
Likability matters way more than most of us are willing to admit. People hire people they know and like (or who are referred to them by people they know and like). Am I the best writer on Planet Earth? Well, as it turns out, I am. But she doesn’t know that (yet). Getting hired as a professional is not a meritocracy. Yes, you have to be good. But, as important, you have to be somebody other people want to be around.
I don’t have to be a sales guru
I don’t need to be particularly skilled at selling. Look again at the email she wrote: “I’m wondering if you would be interested in talking to us…?” At this point, as long as we agree on the specifics of the project, it will happen. We already like and need each other.
Compare that to cold calling somebody who’s never heard of you and probably doesn’t even want what you’re selling. It’s not even in the same solar system as the conversation I’m having with Abigail.
The secret to becoming a likable expert
My overall marketing philosophy is simple:
“Stay in front of the people you know, over and over again, in a way that positions you as a likable expert.”
It’s simple to do. Which is also why, I suppose, it’s easy to overlook.
But I can promise you this. If you create a marketing approach focused on expert positioning, likeability, and relationship building, you’ll get more than your fair share of emails that begin with, “I’m wondering if you’d be interested in talking to us…?”
Michael Katz is Founder and Chief Penguin of Blue Penguin Development. He specializes in helping professional service providers talk about their work in a way that is clear and compelling. Sign up for his free newsletter, The Likeable Expert Gazette, here.
© YFS Magazine. All Rights Reserved. Copying prohibited. All material is protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this material is prohibited. Sharing of this material under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International terms, listed here, is permitted.