For sale: You

Written by Jennifer O’Connor

Regardless of what your company sells, your most valuable product is you. “Selling yourself is the beginning of everything,” says Laurie Soper, founder of Toronto-based Precise Communications, founded in 1992. “It’s so basic. You can’t make money without selling yourself.”

Soper is a plain language consultant — meaning she helps banks, investment firms and insurance companies simplify complex information so they can produce information that is easy to read and understand. She spoke recently at a Women for Recreation, Information and Business event in Toronto about ways that people can sell themselves.

“The idea behind providing a business or service is to make customers happy,” says Soper. “If you’re not making them happy, it doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do. You’re not doing your job.”

So, how do you do a good job of selling yourself? Soper offered these tips:

  • Keep your ears open, and your mouth closed. “Listening is the most effective selling technique, because your client knows you’re interested in them and you’re focusing on them,” says Soper. “Listening makes the listened-to person feel good, and if you make somebody feel good, you’re selling yourself.”
  • A little self-confidence does a lot of good. Have complete confidence in your expertise — but don’t get confidence confused with arrogance, boasting or feeling superior, Soper warns.
  • Play well with others. “Become part of the team instead of demanding a hierarchy, where you’re the expert and everybody is below you,” she recommends. “Allowing your clients to teach you things is critical to selling yourself.”
  • Don’t be stingy with your expertise. “When you share knowledge with people, it’s amazing the amount of gratitude you get from them,” she says.
  • Business relationships aren’t just built in the boardroom. “Build relationships with everybody — that means everybody in your client’s site, your neighbours, your friends, your relatives and even your kids’ teachers. Don’t just concentrate on what you consider to be the business circle,” she says. “If you’re meaningful and genuine with everybody who’s around you, then connections for your business will show up magically and organically all over the place.”

Read other pointers on How To contribute to your business success!

© 2003 Jennifer O’Connor

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com