Being a professional in how you run your business gives you a much greater chance of success. Here are six signs you’re a pro:
You recognise other professionals
Professionals recognise other professionals. There’s an aura you project when you’re a pro, and other pros will spot it almost immediately. Professionals want to deal with other professionals, and they keep away from the amateurs. It’s a different league. Do you want to play with the professionals? Then be one.
You understand the value of the services you use
The amateur looks to cut corners everywhere. He is always scrounging around looking for the cheapest option (Hint: someone, somewhere, will almost always offer to do it for less!)
The amateur doesn’t value professionals. She thinks they are overcharging her for everything, or worse, she thinks she can just do it all herself. “Why pay someone to run my Google Ads, when I can do it myself” she says. But then she finds those ads don’t convert into new customers, and they end up costing way more than they should. Then the amateur throws her arms up in the air and says that Google Ads are a waste of money. Meanwhile, the professional has an expert running her Google Ads and has just quadrupled her business in six months.
You’re prepared to pay for expert help
The pro understands that professionals pay for expertise. The amateur gets his cousin to build his new website in exchange for a case of beer. But then that website takes forever to get built, and when it finally does go live, the images take too long to load, and it’s missing lead generation devices, or it hasn’t been optimised correctly for search engines, or any of the other things that a professional would have done to use the website to help the business grow. The professional gets his website built by a pro, and while it might cost more, before too long, that site is getting found on Google and it’s generating new leads and new customers for the business.
You see an investment where an amateur just sees a cost
The amateur looks at the cost of a service and just sees it as an expense. That new website; the management of Google Ads or Facebook advertising; the marketing strategy – to an amateur, these are just costs.
The professional looks at return on the investment. The pro thinks about things like the lifetime value of a customer, and compares that to the customer acquisition cost. That is, how much is a new customer worth? And what did it cost to acquire them?
If a new client is going to be worth $50,000 to your business, and they cost $5,000 to acquire, would you do it? These are the questions a professional asks. The amateur just sees the $5,000 and views it as an expense. The professional sees the value, and the return from the investment, and uses that thinking to grow his business.
You run your business the way a captain steers a ship
The professional has a plan, the way a captain has a course. That plan shows a starting point and a destination. The professional spends her time working to the plan, doing what she is an expert at, and she engages other professionals to do what they are expert at. And before long, the business is being run as a professional outfit, achieving much better results.
You show up and do the work
The professional shows up. He turns up everyday, and does what is required, day in and day out. The amateur looks for the easy way out.
Muhammad Ali said “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’” He showed up. He was a pro.
He also said “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”
Sure, the amateur can get lucky. Could an amateur have knocked out Ali? It’s remotely possible – very, very, very remotely possible. The “lucky punch” can land, pretty much the way a lottery ticket could win. Ali would have won, and won easily against an amateur while he was in his professional prime. It wouldn’t even have been a contest.
That’s the life of the professional: They do the work. They are always looking to improve themselves and their business, and they surround themselves with a team of experts (both internal and external to the business) who help them get there.
You have a choice: to be an amateur or a professional in your business. But if you want to give your business the best chance of success, then take the road of the professional.
When you mention business networking to people you get a wide range of responses. Many people swear by it, while others are sworn off it!
To some people, the idea of business networking conjures up images of operators who spend their time at events running around grabbing as many business cards as they can, so they can add you to their mailing list and spam you at every opportunity.
Other people are self-conscious and hesitant to put themselves “out there” and think “I’m not really good at sales” – as though that’s all business networking is: a bunch of people running around trying to sell themselves to everyone else.
However, in our work as a marketing agency, we are exposed to a variety of businesses, and time and time again, the leading source of new work for those businesses is from word-of-mouth and face-to-face interactions – often at networking events.
One of the biggest tips we give business owners, especially the more hesitant ones, is to not think of business networking as a sales pitching session or as work, but rather as an opportunity to build relationships.
Build an authentic connection
Showing an interest in other people and asking them insightful and relevant questions is a powerful way to make a genuine connection. And make sure you listen to what the other person has to say, look them in the eye, don’t get distracted, and respond with follow-up questions. Remember quality connections are more powerful than simply a quantity of contacts – so focus on getting to know people on a more substantial level, rather than collecting business cards.
Offer to help
When you are speaking to someone at a networking session, don’t try to push your business or make a sale. Just have a friendly chat, ask some questions, and see how you can help them.
Helping them could be as simple as offering them some advice in your area of expertise or if their query is outside your field, then putting them in touch with someone who can help is a great way to build a connection.
The person you’re helping will appreciate the thought and the person you refer them to will appreciate that you’ve thought of them too. Hopefully you can help both people, and if you do that often enough, the benefits will come back to you. You will build up a reputation as someone who is friendly, helpful and reliable. And that goodwill goes a long way.
Remember to follow-up
After you make a connection with someone, don’t leave it too long to get back in touch. Perhaps you know someone you can introduce them to – and by facilitating a connection between your contact and someone else you know, you are helping further their goals while also building your relationship with them.
Of course, there are a range of other resources you can employ to help you network successfully:
• Take advantage of the professional networking tool LinkedIn
• Establish mentoring relationships to help guide you
• Use a business card app on your phone to scan cards and add to your contacts list (give CamCard a try)
Remember: focus on building relationships, be prepared to help, be yourself and take a genuine interest in the people you meet. If you do this, people will be more likely to reward you with referrals, and chances are you might even find that networking is less like work, and can be both rewarding and fun.
For other ideas about how you can find new contacts that will help your business, call us at (07) 3878 1448 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Forget about collecting piles of business cards. You can now instantly add a new connection you meet at an event with this cool new function on LinkedIn. Here’s a quick video that shows you how to use it.