“Hey Taz, I see you’re speaking at that event. Can you get me on the programme next year?”
“Hey Taz, I see you know that person I want to meet. Can you just introduce me?”
“Hey Taz, can I just pick your brains over coffee?”
The answer to all these questions, most of the time, is “no”.
The good little girl in me wants to apologise for that blunt answer but, in reality, I’m not sure I should.
Everybody wants to shortcut to the good stuff in life. We see people and assume the grass is greener where they’re standing and then, instead of watering our own lawn, we want to trample straight over theirs.
There are some things in life you really can’t shortcut. Trust is one. Relationships – because they’re based on that trust – also take time. Credibility is another element with no fast pass.
If you want these things, YOU have to build them.
If you’re a budding speaker and you want to present at more gigs, get out there more, show up online more, have a strong, authentic message – a really passionate one that you believe in AND is relevant to others – and build your track record.
Does it help to meet the right people? It can, but this takes time too. Instead of relying on someone else to make the connections for you, consider how you might be able to get on that person or company’s radar under your own steam.
For the record, I don’t get booked for gigs because I asked someone else to have a persuasive word with the organisers. I get booked because I put in the leg work and did lots of free gigs over lots of years and lots of miles, because I’ve spent a long time building my reputation and making myself visible and memorable, and because I know my stuff. Credibility is just as important as visibility. Maybe more so.
I’m writing this from Milan, Italy. Yesterday, I spoke for 25 minutes for a 500-strong audience at a marketing conference. My talk had to do with personal brand, authenticity and using your real story to grow your tribe and positively impact your business.
Know how I got that gig? The organisers saw me on LinkedIn. They checked out my profile, probably watched some of my videos, followed me for a while, then grew to trust me and asked to fly my wife and I out to Italy, so I could speak at their event. Feedback so far has been really positive. Who knows where else this might lead?
Less than a fortnight ago, I was keynoting at an event in Sicily. Know how that came about? The organisers were looking for someone motivational to speak about authenticity in business and marketing, saw my name on the bill for the Milan event, researched me and got in touch.
Not too long before that, I was speaking at Dr Andrea Pennington’s event in London. Guess how that happened? Good, old-fashioned networking. We connected on Facebook, then bumped into each other at an event and spoke some more. Then we talked online even more. The rest, as they say, is history. That connection is also what led to me co-hosting Life, Liberty and becoming a columnist for America Out Loud too.
People, if you want something, go out there and put the effort in to make it happen!
This week, I’ve had no less than FIVE people ask if I can either get them on the bill at this Milan event next year or introduce them to the organisers.
I can’t just introduce people I don’t know. Or, rather, I won’t!
Does that make me mean? I don’t think so. I think it makes me sensible and keeps my own credibility intact.
If I started just randomly connecting people, I’d be risking my own reputation. I’m sure you’re all lovely, but it’s taken a long time to build those relationships – there isn’t some magical shortcut. We all need to build relationships – and trust – first. Trust is one of the most important currencies we have.
If you want me to recommend you for things, build trust with me and get on my radar for all the right reasons. Don’t just keep tugging at my sleeve in the hope that you can wear down my defences. Life doesn’t work that way.
I’m big on helping people and championing the underdog. I’m also big on helping people make it when they’ve made enough of a positive impression on me – regardless of whether they’ve tried to do that. If I recommend someone for a speaking gig, for instance, it’ll be because I’ve seen them in action and know they’re a safe, relevant pair of hands to pass on to someone who trusts my judgement. It won’t be because they’ve sent me a connect request on LinkedIn and ‘cold’ messaged me asking to be put forward.
Do people recommend ME for gigs? YES! Because they’ve seen me in action, because I’ve put in the effort and continue to do so. Because I keep showing up and doing my best to deliver good work and plenty of value.
Can you just pick my brains? Not unless you’ve invented a magical time machine and have the power to hit pause on my schedule while we chat.
Seriously… if I said yes to every request for a coffee and a chat, I’d never get any work done.
If you really want to pick my brains, start by reading my books, then soak up all the free content I put out online, leap onto one of my live broadcasts and ask questions in the comments, digest all these columns on America Out Loud, pay for some 1-2-1 coaching with me (I use Skype, so it doesn’t matter where in the world you are) or come to an event I’m running or speaking at.
I would genuinely love to help everyone, but there’s only one of me. I haven’t mastered the art of being in more than one place at once, I don’t have a magic wand and I can’t just whisper in a few ears and get you to the front of the queue.
It’s taken me a long time to get where I am. I still have a long, long way to go. I know where I want to end up and I’m dong my best to reverse engineer and make that happen, whilst helping, motivating and inspiring as many people as I can along the way.
I can’t do sit ups and build your abs for you. You need to put in the work. You need to make the effort. And effort needs to be far more than looking for coat tails to ride or expecting people to bypass the system and springboard you over everyone else.
Whatever it is you want to achieve, get out there and make it happen. Learn from those who’ve gone before, sure, just don’t expect them to do it for you.
Until next time,