What do you fear? For some in our industry, it is large conferences, and having to interact and network with tons of people. For others, it is the cold call, making the pitch, or negotiating. Sometimes, fear is due to an imposter syndrome that a person may experience after some amazing successes! For still others, fear is aligned with rejection by peers, a superior, or a prospect or client with a proposal! All of us have fears. The big challenge is managing or overcoming them.
When I work with clients one on one, we try to address their fears, if they exist. I thought I would share some of my learning about some specific fears, and follow with an acronym for the word fear that has helped me and many others I know. But first, let’s look at some specific fears.
1. Fear of people you don’t know at events (conferences, training, galas, awards events, etc.). Believe it or not, I fall into in this category. I am an introvert. For many, returning to live events is “relearning” what used to come naturally until we stopped attending events for 19 months. As one person mentioned, it is like putting the training wheels back on for the first couple of events and finding your way.
I continue to overcome this fear (and it is ongoing) by making sure I have someone with me who is more extroverted and tag with them until I feel more comfortable. If there is no such person, I try to find a role that makes me helpful or gives me a chance to meet people indirectly. Sometimes I will stand by the bar and befriend the bartender, which allows me to interact casually with the folks who come to the bar. At meals, I stand by a food station and hand out plates.
2. Fear of making prospect calls. I overcame this by using a script. I wrote down what I would say (like a telemarketer or actor with a script for a show) for each telephone cold call. Today, with email or DM, I still use a template of what I am going to say to ask for a meeting and customize it for each email or DM. For face-to-face meetings (or Zoom) warm or cold calls, I prepare 3-5 discussion topics (such as where are they from, married with kids, how they got this great job, etc.) and 8-10 specific questions if we get into the sponsorship side. Then I have “crib notes” somewhere for the topics and questions. After a year or so, I pretty much knew the topics and questions I would use, but it took that long to get comfortable with them!
3. Fear of rejection of your proposal/offer. I still have this fear, but I can overcome it each time. I do it in two ways. I don’t set high expectations. I look for little wins. For example, I look at a pitch, and if I get some positives but don’t close it, that’s cool—I came out with some positives. If they do not buy because we are too expensive, I look at it as their loss, not mine. I may be more expensive (or appear to be on paper), but in the end, they will have a better product that delivers better results, better ROI, or makes more money than if they use the cheaper model. I always come back to believing in the product I am selling (and if you can’t do that, you should look for a new job ASAP). If they don’t buy my product, it is their loss, not mine.
The real home run for me is truly understanding fear. As with anything else, I like to analyse, understand the situation, figure out the next steps, and so on. When I analyse FEAR, it is nothing more than False Expectations Appearing Real! Once I understood that, I was ahead of the game. I looked back at all the things I feared such as my wife possibly saying no when I asked her to marry me, so I kept putting it off. Or the fear that deals would not happen or not renew… and I was successful in selling sponsorships for pro sports teams and charities. Or perhaps it was my fear when I quit drinking that life would be boring and all my friends would have nothing to do with me because I did not drink, or I could not do my job and entertain clients if I did not drink. Lo and behold, 25 years later, I have been successful with this company, I have tons of friends and acquaintances who I hang out with at events, bars, and restaurants, and I entertain clients weekly (well at least before COVID… and starting back now). All those fears were false. They seemed real, but they weren’t. I keep reminding myself that FEAR is nothing more than False Expectations Appearing Real.
To overcome some fears by gaining even more knowledge and understanding how others got where they are and fears they had, I encourage you to register today for the National Sponsorship Forum presented by the WSC®. There will be over 25 industry leaders, all with fears of their own—existing or overcome, delivering content and overcoming fears over five days all available live in each time zone across North America during local business hours! All this without having to get up early or stay past 5:00 p.m. to engage with this content, including a day of career development resources!
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