Charisma comes so naturally to some people. A few sweet words and suddenly everyone’s eating out of their hand. It’s not just annoying, it’s actually helping them get ahead (of you) in the business. After all, relationship-building is a highly marketable skill – you don’t win that big contract or form that fruitful commercial partnership by making people hate you, do you?
Fortunately for those less blessed in this department, there are tools at your disposal that will stop your charm offensive from being just offensive. Deploy them wisely – and be nice.
Don’t roll your eyes at me. Smiles are strategic. You don’t have to grin like an idiot, but you do at least have to look like you’re happy to see the person you’re trying to charm. Pay attention to them too. Ask them questions. No amount of smiling will make up for unabashed narcissism – and you never know, you might even learn something.
2. Invite them out
Now that you can hold a conversation, you’ve got find a way of getting face time with your prospect. But how do you woo someone if they won’t take your calls?
Fortunately, there’s a precision tool to break through the wall of indifference: corporate hospitality. There’s nothing more likely to entice them out of the office than a leisurely, stimulating day out. Try to pick something distinguished, like the Classic and Sports Car Show. That way when you follow up, they’ll associate your name with timeless automobiles, elegant food and champagne. As opposed to, say, Jagermeister, 4,000 sweaty teenagers and Justin Bieber.
3. Do your homework
If the marketing manager who holds your contract in their hands also holds season tickets to Arsenal, there’s not much point inviting them to a Manchester United match.
It pays to do a little digging, ideally through rich conversation rather than Facebook stalking. If this doesn’t work, go for something out of the ordinary – at least then you might pique their curiosity.
4. Follow up
People have short memories. They can be your best friend when you’re at the Wimbledon final, but two months’ later they’ve forgotten your name. Follow up soon after your initial meeting. Ideally, arrange a date for coffee while you still have them in front of you.
Make notes of what they told you on the day too – it will help you tailor your follow up for maximum effect.
5. Be persistent
You can do your homework, you can have the best follow up ideas, you can smile until your cheeks hurt – it still doesn’t guarantee success. In the final analysis, you can’t buy a good business relationship, you can only improve your chances. After that, success is a function of perseverance – so don’t give up. Eventually, they’ll either give you a chance or tell you to go away, but you’ll never get to that point if you’re not persistent.
For more info on the Classic and Sports Car Show hospitality packages, ranging from £75 to £220, see here.
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