Indieconf 2012: Seven Lessons in Personal Marketing

After a brief interruption so I could post my overdue RubyConf 2012 recap, we return to Indieconf at the McKimmon Center to learn “Seven Lessons in Personal Marketing.” [slides]

Alan Stevens was a dynamic speaker who kept the audience’s attention throughout his presentation. He explained that to do this, he treated the presentation as a conversation. As soon as he entered the room, he began talking with someone in the audience. He then transitioned into his presentation without missing a beat. By doing this, he dramatically reduced the pre-talk jitters he usually gets before he speaks in public. Clever, practical, and something we should all try.

Alan’s talk focused on “The Seduction Community,” something I wasn’t previously familiar with. Apparently, it’s a group of people (I’m guessing mostly guys?) that analyze the social forces involved in interpersonal relationships and seek to “hack” their behavior so they can pick up women. Alan was introduced to this concept by Merlin Mann.

“How did this topic possibly make the cut?” Hang with me, it all makes sense by the end.

Some of the “pickup artists” Alan mentioned are:

Many of them have blogs where they regularly post advice on social hacking, but most of them just run sites about how to get more dates or how to make yourself more attractive to women. I can’t imagine the damage I’m doing to my SEO by linking to them, but I digress…

“All sales is nothing more than making friends.” –Shane Pearlman

With that quote we come to the main point of Alan’s talk: you can hack your social interaction to make more friends and, as a direct result, sell more stuff. Here are his Seven Lessons summarized:

  1. it’s OK to talk to strangers
    • nature has not designed you for the world in which you now live
    • beware of your lizard brain (the limbic system)
    • Karl Rohnke’s CSP model (comfort zone, stretch zone, panic zone)
    • approach anxiety (it never goes away, so don’t try to make it go away)
    • “Confidence is not the goal. Competence is.”
  2. lean back
    • panhandler’s “lean in” emotionally and physically
    • don’t be a panhandler
    • physically lean back, “hey, it’s cool”
    • there’s nothing to lose here
    • everyone has a shield
    • “Your primary goal must be your own enjoyment.” (not that you need anything or have a goal in mind)
  3. prepare your mental frame
    • examples: 13 year olds, Bette Davis, kid sister, underwear, the host
    • mental attitude that helps you give off the right signals
    • are you chasing butterflies or are you being a light that draws what you want to you?
    • be lighthearted (everyone doesn’t have to like you)
  4. provide value
    • give people insight into themselves
    • enter a set at the same or slightly higher energy as the people in the group
    • this can help make other people more comfortable
    • reach people at an emotional level
    • seek rapport, not approval (understand each other’s feelings)
  5. talk to groups
    • talking is the only means you have of conveying your personality
    • speak slowly, with pauses and enthusiasm
    • Toastmasters
  6. get warmed up
    • loud music, jumping up and down
    • get out of your shell BEFORE you’re in a given situation
    • practice your mingling on the socially challenged
    • get into a talkative mood and practice talking to everyone
  7. have a plan
    • two essential components: Avatar and Story
    • be yourself, but be your best self
    • Avatar: the image you present, should be slightly different than the norm but not weird
    • Story topics: did something fun, did something you weren’t supposed to do, took charge of a situation, etc.

Something else Alan said really struck me: “Networking is doing favors for other people.” This isn’t about taking advantage of people, hypnotizing them into buying your crappy stuff, or being friendly just so you can get something in return. This is about genuinely caring for other people and trying to figure out what you can give them that will cause them to give you something in return.

It’s about “putting your best foot forward” and eliminating the inhibitions and barriers that are preventing you from being an effective salesperson. Because as freelancers, we have to be able to sell our services effectively or we won’t last long.

I’ll close with a final book recommendation from Alan: “The Art of Mingling” by Jeanne Martinet. This one looks really good. I’ve added it to my Christmas list. Santa take note.

Tomorrow I’ll recap Katie Benedetto’s talk titled “Shaping Your Solopreneurship to Your Life.”

This post is one in a series from Indieconf 2012