I’m writing this one from my home office desk, its been a busy week and I’m really trying to keep up with the routine/commitment to writing, whilst doing the work of the business and generating future work. Oh and the image is from one of the first events I went to as a sole trader. Seems the photographer found me (Edited – seems the photos on the blogs aren’t displaying properly on my website, will fix this soon).
So where did this gem come from… honestly I don’t know. My guess is someone wiser once said it to me (or words to that effect) and it stuck.
It was perhaps my anti-version of what I believed networking to look like. I wasn’t down with the ‘turn up’, ‘give your pitch’, ‘tell a story’ – try to sell and hope you are remembered long enough for you to be the one people call when they need help.
Putting yourself in places to be found is about being present in the worlds where you desire to work.
What this is not….
- This is not about being seen, its about being noticed
- This is not about being noisy, its about being heard
- This is not about speaking (because you can), its about adding value (that others can’t)
- This is not about being centre stage, but about being present…
“Putting yourself in places to be found is about being noticed as valuable by more than one person in a space and being consistent in your contribution for the betterment of those in the space”.
An Approach (to being found)
This applies to physical and virtual places (both workshops and social media platforms). So how might you do this – or at least here’s what I did…
- Sector – Figure out where you want to work, the field/sector. Get specific, can this be narrowed down by industry type, organisational size, geography e.g. learning and development within medium sized businesses in Doncaster (that’s me). Now don’t limit yourself to this but use it as your main focus for your attention. Having clarity on this will mean when you are time starved its easier to prioritise this community over the others you may engage with.
- Setting – Visit these places physical or virtual, turn up, watch, learn and interact. On your first few occasions you may just wish to be a watcher. You may even avoid interaction and conversation until you know more about the context and ‘how to be YOU’ in this environment. Simply navigate the space, learning the etiquette and social rules. What are the norms for questions, stories and input but also what is the band width for outliers, agitators and disturbance. This will serve you well later.
- Scribe – Take note of the people that others listen to, try to understand why. Is it because of their position of influence (perceived or real social/positional power), is it because of what they have to say (and how they say it or when – timing is often crucial). How do they present themselves, do they draw people to them or do they enter the conversations of others. Why is this important, well firstly, it’s to be sure you never mimic or try to be them. Being found is about being noticed as the authentic you. Secondly and more importantly its about paying attention to what is of value to the listeners in the audience. Noticing what seems to hook (and maintain) their attention. Is it the words of wisdom and/or the power of the voice. Its also important to notice who’s not listening and find out why. The golden opportunity to be noticed is often found here. In the voices of the disengaged or the passive attendees (these people will have a desire for something and you may well have it). Before you offer your contributions talk to these people first.
- Speak – Attend events and just sit. Listen intently and wait for your moment. If you pay attention to the room (the noise, the energy, the vide, the mood) and listen to and beyond the words there will come a point when you know the timing to contribute (offer value, ask a good question) will be most right. Asking good well-timed questions or offering contributions of value is easy for me to say I know. Sadly I can’t tell you what these are as they are going to be specific to your context and different for every engagement. However I can say… don’t be a dick and go saying something that makes you look all-knowing and others beneath you. Even if you are right this will not help your cause. More people will dislike you and move away than those who will like you for this. Don’t ask a question that will push speakers and delegates too far. It’s ok and good to agitate (disturb the status quo within the tolerance for the space), its not ok to make people feel under threat.
Advocacy Over Sales
In all of this you need to think of every engagement being an opportunity for advocacy. An opportunity for endearment to be cultivated (a liking and kinship for you, and between others). In sales books and business growth resources you are likely to see language that is akin to ‘seeing every person as a potential client/customer’. I’m not saying that approach doesn’t work, but in my eyes this approach is short-sighted, transactional and momentary.
Whereas if you see every engagement as a possible opportunity for advocacy, you shift the mind from ‘what can I sell here’ to ‘how can I bring value to this interaction’. Yes on many occasions this will simply lead to people saying thank you and moving on. However if you are consistent in trying to always offer value (for no direct gain), word gets out that you are a helpful human, people talk between themselves of the learning they have had and where from and your name becomes the one that’s mentioned. You increase the likelihood of being the one recommended.
You go from being an unknown watcher in the room to a valuable and trusted community member. Whilst you may know nothing of this for months or even years, I promise you if you start now and continue it will come back in your favour. I now work with people I first connected with over 5 to 10 years ago but haven’t directly spoken to much since. They have openly acknowledge one of the key reasons for working with me is my continued presence in the world they reside and my continued investment to it.
Putting yourself in places to be found, is about long-term relationships, repeat sales and lasting memories. Which I believe to be a more time/cost effective approach to getting work..
Be present – pay attention to the space
Be valuable – contribute for the betterment of others
Be accessible – open and approachable
Be inviting – welcome conversation
If you want to join me and a group of likeminded humans in this writing and publishing journey, just get in touch via the contacts page link or direct via email@example.com. From here we will grow together.
For further information about the book #BEingSuccessfulEnough or other blog chapters click here
Now off to ‘Be Found’ at the 2022 Doncaster Business Showcase Event !! what to wear?