why

Telling your why

Stop. What are you doing in business right now and why? Imagine if you asked yourself this question before doing anything. Sure, in cases such as brushing your teeth, bathing, and eating, you don’t need to explore these decisions. What about your business activities? There is a thin line between a groove and a rut. Major changes are often unnecessary, and sometimes small ones can regain our rhythm. You may find that you hit your groove again when you re-determine your “why,” also known as your ECC (Emotionally Charged Connection.)

Whether you’re a CPA or a mechanic, with all due respect, we don’t care. We really don’t. What we care about is why you put your feet on the floor this morning and decided to stand up and go to work. There can be so many reasons, and only you know what they are. But does the rest of the world? Would you step over a winning lottery ticket if you knew it was more than a piece of paper? Would I step past you if I knew not only what you do but why you do it? People don’t care much about what we do for a living, or how we operate until they know what drives us. Most of the people we meet talk to us only about what they do, but they never explain why.

Let’s explore the five reasons your why should come first.

  1. Believability—Skepticism is at an all-time high. Think about all the different channels of communication now available to us to broadcast our message, not to mention the vast number of people and businesses vying for attention. Among TV, social media, and radio, it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin. It’s only natural to defend ourselves from the onslaught. Automatically, people are not to be believed—that is, until they give us a compelling reason to do so.
  2. Likeability—“Sell yourself, not your stuff,” Virginia Musquiz said recently at a Referral Institute conference in Petaluma, California. Webster defines a “commodity” as a “mass-produced unspecialized product.” Ouch! Do other people sell what you sell? If the answer is yes, you’d better get some likeability. Products and price being relatively equal, people will always choose to buy from someone they genuinely like.
  3. Authenticity—When and how have you failed? It’s true that no one wants to look bad. However, if you look perfect, that is even worse. Weave stories about your failures and imperfections into your conversations with others. If you can show some humility early on, you will shorten the trust timeline. It’s OK to share with people that you make mistakes, especially if you then tell how you’ve fixed them.
  4. Connectivity—What do we have in common? In a recent training session, we learned that the other people in the class enjoyed photography, cycling, cooking, nature, and running. Bonding and rapport come when you share the same hobbies with someone else or when you are interested in learning more.
  5. Referability—Recently an electrician told us the dramatic story about his career choice. He said, “When I was an eleven years old, my family rushed out of our home in the middle of the night due to an electrical fire in the basement. While everyone made it out all right, we lost everything—the house and all of our earthly possessions. I knew then that I never wanted this to happen to anyone else, so that’s why I became an electrician.” If your story is not this dramatic, that’s OK. But we still want to know the reason why you do what you do.

It makes no difference how you communicate your message, whether it’s TV, radio, print advertising, billboards, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, keynote presentations, or face-to-face meetings. Until we know why, it doesn’t matter what you do.

This blog topic is out of the book. “Avoiding the Networking Disconnect” which I wrote with Brennon Scanlon.

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