For the past several weeks I’ve been writing about and teaching how to get more meetings with prospective clients and those who can connect you with prospective clients.
Apparently it’s a hot topic. More than 350 signed up for my demo webinar on the subject, “Fewer Emails, More Meetings.” And several people, including my subscribers and clients, are getting more meetings than ever before.
Up to this point I’ve focused on the simple, step-by-step how to’s of sending simple emails and getting meetings.
But there’s another side that’s just as, if not more important. Yes, you need a plan and an action strategy.
However, you also need a thinking strategy. And if you don’t have one, the chances of this working decrease dramatically.
When I suggest the actions: “Identify people to speak with, craft a simple email inviting them to meet with you, and send it,” you may jump on it and make that happen.
But more likely, some resistant thoughts are going to pop into your head first. Here are some that others have shared with me. I’ll bet some of them are familiar.
They won’t be interested in meeting with me.
They don’t have the time to meet with me.
I don’t know what I’d say if I did get a meeting.
It will just be a waste of time, anyway.
They’ll think I’m being desperate if I ask for a meeting.
Better to wait for them to contact me first.
It will be uncomfortable.
I don’t want to be an interruption.
Nobody responds to emails these days anyway.
Add yours here: ______________________________________
So let’s look at this through the lens of habits. Habits of thinking, in this case.
Habit defined: “A settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.”
When we think of reaching out and asking someone to meet with us, one or more of those thoughts may pop up habitually.
We don’t decide to think those thoughts. They just appear in our heads – both automatically and predictably.
And when we think thoughts like this, it’s also predictable that we’ll avoid taking the action we were thinking about taking.
The thinking scenario goes something like this.
1. “Hmmm, I could contact some past clients and get a meeting with them to explore new business opportunities.
2. “Well, if they really needed me, they’d call me, so it’s probably a waste of time.”
3. “I think I’ll have something to eat instead. That chocolate cake looks good!”
OK, tell the truth, how many zillion times have you run scenarios like that inside your head?
So, what’s the solution? The solution is to change the habit of thinking, of course! But how on earth do you do that? After all, if it was easy, you’d change your thinking in an instant and just get on with it, wouldn’t you?
Well, it’s not easy because that thinking habit makes you feel comfortable and safe. After all, if you don’t reach out, you avoid any possible rejection or disinterest, which is painful.
But here’s a way that works:
The way to change thinking habits is to question them, to explore their consequences, and to find alternative thoughts that actually work better.
This is a process I learned from Byron Katie* many years ago. Let me show you exactly how to apply it.
1. The first thing to do is to become aware of the thought. Then write it down. Get very clear about the thought that is resisting taking action.
So let’s take one of those thoughts: “They won’t be interested in meeting with me.”
2. Now ask this question about that thought: “Is it true?” And answer as honestly as you can. Your thought process might go something like this:
“Well, I can’t absolutely know they won’t be interested. After all, they are a past client I did some great work with. I just haven’t been in touch for a while. So although I can’t know if they’ll be wildly excited to meet with me, I really can’t say it’s true that they won’t be interested in meeting with me.”
OK, now you’ve looked at this and have a more realistic perspective. And now, new possibilities open up.
3. Next ask about the consequences of thinking that thought: How do you react when you think the thought, “They won’t be interested in meeting with me”? I suggest you write it out. It makes it a lot clearer. So you might write something like:
“When I think that thought, I feel scared. I feel they won’t be interested and might be critical of me. I feel nervous and not successful, as if I have to beg for new work.”
So, that thought has real-world consequences. Not only did it prevent you from reaching out, but it also made you feel bad about yourself and less confident about your business.
4. Now, ask what things might be like if you couldn’t think that thought anymore. If you could no longer think, “They won’t be interested in speaking with me,” what would be different?
“Well, I just might be excited to speak with them. I wouldn’t worry about them not being interested. I’d just approach them with my natural enthusiasm and I’d think of some new ideas we could talk about.”
Now, of course, there are many people whom you speak with where exactly that happens. It’s not a huge stretch, is it?
5. The final question is, “What is the turnaround to that thought and is it just as true or even truer?” So, you turn the thought around to its opposite and see what’s there.
“The turnaround thought would be, ‘They just might be interested in meeting with me.’ Again, not a huge stretch. That’s definitely truer than they won’t be interested. And in fact, it’s not hard to find a few examples where I’ve reached out to a past client and they were very interested in meeting with me.”
This simple but powerful process of questioning your thoughts can transform your thinking habit faster than you may realize.
You didn’t make any leaps of faith. It didn’t take an enormous act of will and determination. You simply examined a thought that was preventing you from taking action. You asked if it was true, what the consequences were of thinking it, what might happen if you couldn’t think it anymore, and if the turnaround thought was just as true or truer.
The next time you think of contacting someone for your business, you may find the habitual thought isn’t even there anymore. And you’ll just notice that you’re writing that damn email!
P.S. I wrote a book about this process called The Unstuck Process. You can get it on Amazon.
* Byron Katie is the author of Loving What Is. Highly recommended.