I often wonder how the practice began of pretending to be someone else in order to market your business. You know what I'm talking about -- it's the marketing face, the selling voice, that you often put on in order to attend a networking event or make a sales call. Who taught you to do that?
I have a suspicion where we learn this behavior. Most of us spend a lifetime observing showroom salespeople, product spokespersons in the media, and hucksters on street corners. What we see demonstrated there is artificial enthusiasm, manipulative use of language, feigned interest, and in some cases outright deception.
Sounds awful, doesn't it? So why copy any part of this distasteful way of selling?
Psychologist Abraham Maslow said, "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." Perhaps we believe this is the only way we can sell because it's the only way we know. I'm not accusing anyone of consciously deceiving prospective clients. What I'm suggesting is that what we do unconsciously and automatically is to behave nauthentically around them.
Intuitively, many of us feel as if something is wrong with this way of operating. When we have to sell ourselves, we find it unpleasant, disagreeable, even repulsive. But what if all those negative feelings were simply because we hate the artificiality and manipulation we think must be a part of selling?
Imagine what it would be like to go to a business networking event as yourself. No facade, no pretension, just plain you. When someone asks your reason for coming, you tell them the truth. You don't have to claim you wanted to hear the speaker (if you didn't). You can come right out and say, "I'm hoping to make some contacts that will lead to business for me."
You wouldn't have to invent reasons to start a conversation. You can walk up to someone who looks interesting and say, "Hi, I haven't met you yet." If you're shy around strangers,
you can tell the first person you meet, "I'm sort of a wallflower and feel awkward at events like this. Could you introduce me to some folks?"