One of the favorite activities of my year is coming up: Reviewing the old and preparing the new.
What has changed? What did I achieve? Where am I coming from and how does this impact my future?
As an entrepreneur, my starting point this year will again be the development of my business. As Austrian business we are obliged to keeping our accounting records 7 years. This means, I can review and completely close, and obliterate the records of 2013 this time.
Of course, the beauty is not only to get rid of old things, but looking through them, reminiscing and reliving past successes. While I am doing this, I am finding that it was a pretty successful year regarding book sales! I will love to set the invoices on fire, however I would like to stay in contact with my readers of that time. How can I best manage that? Maybe I should reach out via LinkedIN?
Did you know that 7 years timeframe also coincides with another body related time frame? It takes about 7 years for all of the cells in your body to be replaced by other cells. This means, in short, that your body now really is different in every aspect than the one you had 7 years ago. You are, physically speaking, a completely different person (Disclaimer: not exactly so, but it is a good model to work on, find more here).
After going through my review of the distant, I´ll have a look into what´s been achieved last year. As some of you probably know, my kids and I have published a new book together, the Little Free Thinker.
You want to to your Review-Outlook-Vision together with me?
Then consider joining my workshop that has become a landmark for my Sparring friends and me: Review – Outlook – Vision on January 15th. In the exclusive group we talk about our plans and set targets for the coming year. Join us, if you´d like to!
I wish you a wonderful New Year, and that it will bring you closer to your dreams,
Dr. Amin Talab
Who can escape them? Cheap business cards with Word clipart or the variant with 200 free standard business cards with print advertising on the back. Thrift often begins with the business card and company folder. Business Cards might appear “outdated”, however, some crucial points are still well worth to be considered.
Why are business cards still important in the digital age?
- A business card is often that first physical contact with a new person and helps to win them over as a customer and start the negotiation on the right foot. The situation is even worse with service providers: Here this is sometimes the only tangible “gift” that is ever given. Accordingly, several pieces of perception act here at the same time (see The Master Negotiator Checklist p 108):
- The first impression (Primacy effect) is rated disproportionately and stays in the memory much longer
- Observations are unconsciously selected in such a way that the first impression is confirmed : “I knew it.”
- Therefore, the following performance and price presentation is seen in the light of the business card impression. So it’s easy to start a vicious circle here.
- Business cards are often “taken out again” after the meeting, touched and felt. They are therefore viewed more often than just when they are handed over.
- Business cards are read! In the age of overstimulation, this is a very important opportunity.
- So the last thing your business card should be is boring and interchangeable. Your business card is the mirror of your company and your achievements. Accordingly, you should invest in the design and printing of your business card and be sure to consult a professional.
5 tips for the optimal use of the business card with your negotiating partner
1. Cheap business cards really tend to leave a cheap impression
Do you want to look cheap? If not, invest in your business card.
Invest your time and money. Until you love them. When did you invest enough? There’s a little trick: if it’s such a beautiful work of art that you hesitate to hand your child a copy to play with because it feels too valuable for that.
2. All important information should be easy to find
After a keynote, participants had left countless business cards. Yet, 4 (of about 70) cards lacked e-mail addresses. 6 didn’t give any website information, or maybe didn’t have any ?!
Every industry works a little differently, of course. But e-mail and the Internet are a must practically everywhere.
But there is a little more to it than that. Assume that a casual observer, much like visiting your website, spends only a few seconds answering the following questions:
1) Who is that?
2) What is he doing?
3) Can I use it?
3. Take advantage of the back side
Imagine listening to a 1 minute commercial on the radio. Only if finishes after 30 seconds. Then there is silence. That is the situation and the lost chance if you leave the back of your card blank. You can include current offers, a slogan, a coupon or a URL. For example, I have information about my books attached on the back.
4. Always take business cards with you
You can share your information wherever you could meet people. Put some in your bike, car, bag, sports bag and with the seminar documents. After all, the interested customer can be waiting for you anywhere. So be prepared!
5. Think “Class” instead of “mass” when handing out your cards
During my last Speed Negotiation Seminar one participant “forced his card” on everyone, whether they wanted it or not. When tidying up after the seminar, I found half of the cards spread out on tables and in the garbage can. The potential partners reaction was to be “pissed off” and brought little positive either to her or to the recipients. Only give business cards to someone who deserves them. After you’ve invested so much in your business cards, hand them out only to people you actually want to work with. This saves you from stalking gossip and doesn’t seem so intrusive.
The first but important step would be done. If you want to take a closer look at fee negotiations and practice your first impression, have a closer look at my Speed Negotiation Event..
I wish you success!
Strategic attitude and negotiation skills determine relationships, careers, and even the overall success of your life to a very special degree. The SparringClub is about setting ambitious goals and consistently achieving the best possible negotiation success with the Coaching support.
There are only a few places available in the exclusive program, and I personally select participants with a view to mutual learning success. The SparringClub consists of a select group of executives, influencers and self-employed who want to exchange ideas at a top level and perfect their negotiating skills, not only on the strategic, but also on the practical day-to-day level.
The number of participants is deliberately limited to 10 and focused on the right target group in order to ensure the intimacy and the exclusivity of the small group. In the club, strategies, goals and techniques are optimized, tried out and trained in a multi-facetted Coaching program.
If you are interested in becoming a Master Negotiator, sign up for the online information evening on December 7th, without any obligation, and let’s achieve the best negotiation results with friends!
Suddenly, products and services were no longer available. (Not only) Food was hoarded and businesses went bankrupt overnight. Crises like Covid-19 show the importance of a functioning market economy for all market participants, but also for the state community as such and can give previously unknown clarity.
In addition to the loss of tax revenue and the range of products and services, small local companies (SMEs) in particular felt the “loss of the marketplace” very directly. These “small” companies are usually not in the limelight, but provide a large part of the domestic economic output: tax advisors, consultants, coaches, lawyers, IT consultants, stage technicians or even writers “from next door”.
A Free Society Builds On The Understanding of Free Markets
The public marketplace with all its facets, and the potential contact with customers that it provides, is a prerequisite for entrepreneurship and independence.
In crisis the risks of self-employment show themselves in all their existence-threatening ugliness:
- the often underestimated corporate risk (without customers, no sales, means no income, despite ongoing expenses)
- the draining, constant performance requirement, despite illness, family demands, school dropouts, etc. and
- the 24/7 accompanying existential fear, also for family, employees, suppliers etc.
But independence means more than just increased risk.
There is an even more fundamental difference: In order to survive, the self-employed need a very specific, regulatory, practical and also mentally supportive environment. For the self-employed person to be successful, it is not enough to work off his tasks well every day and wait for the end of the month.
The development of the last few decades has brought many new services to a market that already was highly competitive. Mailboxes, email inboxes and apps are under constant fire from companies that are desperately trying to attract attention.
However, even with advertising, customers and sales don’t just come in automatically. While large network providers, electricity suppliers, supermarkets or fashion chains can still advertise their product, small lawyers, tax advisors, carpenters, masseurs or energy specialists can hardly do so. SME need more than just marketing, they need “human curiosity & openness to ” environment.
This environment, this “market place” first of all requires the actual encounter, that is, a physical meeting, albeit with a safe distance. But it also requires a mental encounter: This means intellectual openness and the social understanding that a marketplace is necessary, helpful, colorful and advantageous for all.
It is precisely this openness that is lacking in Europe. Whether for environmental, social, or political reasons: business and market criticism are becoming increasingly popular.
Constant Selling is the lifeblood of a successful (business) venture
A particular challenge for many small companies is the need to constantly present their own services and entrice new customers.
That is a rather tightrope walk for SMEs because nobody wants to be ingratiating or selling. Small or sole proprietorships have no budget to advertise on a large scale and wide range. In practice, what counts primarily is the personal appearance and the business card or website with which the entrepreneur can draw attention to himself and his services.
Europe Has An Ideological Problem With Free Markets
There is space and interest for this personal appearance in the Anglo-American, but also in Asian culture. The search for new business partners and customers is understood as a professional, meaningful and social social activity. Hence, achievement and success is encouraged, if not admired. People agree that conversations and business negotiations mostly lead to mutually beneficial agreements, “deals” are actively sought.
In Europe and especially in the Roman Catholic societies, even the word “market” is already suspect. People are supposed to meet (only) for cultural events or social or at least humanitarian reasons. The basic tenor is often rather cynical: Let´s have the convenience of technological progress, but without capitalism or time-consuming advertising and sales.
You might easily hear people argue: “I don’t need 20 types of yoghurt in the supermarket.” You can hardly explain the background of our economic system but respond shortly: “No, you might not, but we also don’t just want to have to eat your favorite variety.” European can be completely oblivious to the connection between market mechanisms and the variety of services and products. However, for a functioning market and thus for companies, having informed, interested, open and self-determined market participants can go a long way.
As an example of many:
The misconception of the GDPR
The implementation of the GDPR is an example of this misconception about market mechanisms: a potential (private or commercial) customer may not be written to or otherwise contacted by entrepreneurs before the latter explicitly and actively gives his consent.
However, this consent must also not be requested directly, unless the customer approaches the provider of his own volition. This may be justified and work where huge companies can generate desire, brand affinity and demand with appropriate advertising budgets and measures.
With the self-employed IT specialist or consultant, writer, coach or trainer, however, it can be safely assumed that practically nobody will ask for advertising brochures on their own. With the GDPR in place, entire industries can be found without any basis for legally addressing new customers with economically justifiable means. At the same time, one can observe that spam mails from dishonest companies have by no means decreased, and mail advertising from large companies also seems to have hardly decreased.
Do entrepreneurs need personal contact to survive? You bet!
Now, as the economic fallout from the shutdown is making itself felt, something is being written about local marketplaces and the importance of buying at home. People are becoming aware that their neighborhood, their city, their region can only survive economically if the cycle stays in motion.
What does my Freelance Neighbor actually offer?
How often have I seen neighbors and even family members surprised to find out after a purchase that they could have bought the same products or services directly from their cousins, classmates or friends (and on the same or better terms)!
Because selling in person is by and large taboo in Europe, the fitness trainer bites her tongue at parties rather than selling her achievements and courses. There is always the danger that she could appear intrusive or even a salesy. At the next meeting, however, it turns out that the woman you got along so well with at the party has booked another sports coach directly in the fitness center.
Is Online Marketing the Answer?
The only channel left for small businesses is almost unaffordable online advertising. But here a recent experience in Vienna/Austria shows the widespread hostility towards advertising and entrepreneurship, despite all lip service. If you really wanted companies, you also have to allow them to actively offer themselves and their products.
If a small company like mine is willing and financially able to place a paid ad, it should not have to think twice about its offer for fear of being accused of advertising too aggressively!
Even Online Marketers are worrying about being too salelsy!
This, however, is exactly what happened when we tried to market one of our books (this is the page we wanted to link to, judge for yourself) via an online advertiser dedicated to EPUs and boroughs in Vienna. The answer from the online marketplace we received?
“The presentation [of this CD box, note A] was a rather misleading sales page for me.”
Viennese Online Marketing Agency, (co)financed with public funds
Our paid ad was declined for reason of being too aggressive!
It sounds like a mockery that the same “highly moral” agency is still tapping public funds from the Vienna Business Agency in order to support SMEs in the Grätzl. With this moral arrogance and fear of selling, we in Europe don’t need to worry about competition from Asia or the U.S.A. We are already finishing our companies ourselves.
Mit dieser moralischen Überheblichkeit und Verkaufsangst brauchen wir in Europa keine Sorge vor der Konkurrenz aus Asien oder den U.S.A. haben. Wir machen unsere Unternehmen so schon selbst fertig.
We need a European way forward
If, as a society, we seriously value freedom to shape one’s profession and life, we need a society that values its elements such as the market, advertising and the culture of supply.
This is by no means difficult to attain, but the change must take place in the mind!
- To do this, school teachers need to be required to know and understand market mechanisms personally.
Internships in small companies with corresponding customer frequency should become a compulsory part of the pedagogical curriculum in teacher training.
- Schools should incorporate projects that foster marketing and selling products or services.
Our children are sent out onto the streets to beg for Churches and Caritas without hesitation, but buying fruit themselves and selling fruit juice for pocket money at the school festival is rejected as being too profit-oriented. Instead of focusing on the acquisition of grants and donations, the mechanism of supply and demand should be experienced and learned.
- Decision-makers, especially in politics, should have felt the rough wind, especially in the sale of a local SME, for at least a certain time before their parliamentary representation.
Last but not least, it´s time in Europe to seriously and honestly grapple with the question of how much freedom we really want for ourselves and our children. It has become all too easy and socially acceptable to denounce the mistakes of capitalism.
It should be at least equally appropriate and socially acceptable to name the advantages and freedoms of capitalism. If we want a creative, sustainable, free and entrepreneurial Europe in the 21st millennium, we need to rethink and strengthen a society that values entrepreneurship with all its facets. Better to tackle the above steps today than tomorrow.
Responsible Managers Are Rightly Complaining about Lacking Negotiation Skills
Managers with outcome responsibility often tell me how frustrating it is asking their colleagues to prepare better for negotiations. They complain about lacking awareness for negotiation skills, or even outright misunderstanding of the very term “negotiations”.
More often than not, it is not a lack of will that stops professionals focusing on their negotiating strategies and thus arriving at better results, but a costly lack of awareness:
People want to believe they are just talking, meeting, discussing. “Negotiating” sounds too harsh and tactical, or even too one-sided to what they think they are doing, when what they really are doing is clearly negotiating.
In relationships, ignorance about how to smoothly get what you need can be a costly mistake: Not knowing why and how you can influence others (without bossing them around) will cost you money, time and good-will.
Most surprisingly, it is often the people who would need most to be working on their negotiation skills who least acknowledging that their relationships are not working as well as they think they are.
If your colleague is seeking to keep or improve relationships, they must not ignore negotiation skills.
Here is why:
- People, in general, are not isolated island dwellers. They need others to meet their targets
- Hardly anybody is in the position to order others around. If you need to persuade others to support you, you need to negotiate.
- While it does cost time, effort and money to work on your skills, the long term effects outweigh these costs by far.
- There is no need to go the egoistic route, fight and struggle, when you could find options that satisfy your needs while leaving everyone else better off?
How to persuade colleagues to start negotiating better instead of just repeating their points over?
Here is a short Argumentation guide for people “never negotiating”
Yes, I know, some people just believe they are never negotiating.
Here a little argumentation guide to guide you through the “conversation” with them. You can use it to practice your own argumentation (yes, argumentation skills can be a big part of negotiations)
Colleague says: “Why should I look into negotiation skills? I never negotiate anyways.”
Step 1: Start with asking a question to establish ground:
“I know you are not living on a far-away island, so you are probably entertaining relationships with work colleagues, neighbors, family and friends, right?“
If they are not completely asocial nerds, they would have to answer “Yes“.
Step 2 Go on:
“Are they all following your orders, I mean do they see you as their commander?“
Now some smart pencils will probably point out that their subordinates are following their orders, and maybe their kids, or even their husbands (or wives). But by and large most people can not simply boss other people around to do what they please. Since in free societies people come and interact at their own will, the answer is bound to be “No, they don´t follow my orders”.
Step 3 Continue:
“So if you don´t command them, do people always give you what you want, when you simply ask them for it?“
We all know the answer to this question is “No”. If not, please tell me where to move!
Step 4 Now comes a decisive question:
“How then do you make people do what you need them to?“
They might return your question and ask you: “Like what?“
Negotiating Like what? Human encounters are basically negotiations!
Step 5 It´s your turn to explain yourself now. There are hundreds of examples you can give, like:
- “Do you loath the thought of asking your colleague yet another time to fill you in on what´s happening? You are getting promises, but never quite the most important part?”
- “Do you ever wish you could choose the movie being watched on Netflix?”
- “Would you like your client to give you notice just a little bit earlier next time so you can better plan?”
- “Are you wondering why your group of friends always ends up at the Chinese place, while you prefer Burgers?”
- “Do you try to convince your team to go ahead with certain steps yet they sometimes don´t “get it”?
- “Would you like to buy something, however the price is just not in your budget rage?”
- “Do you wish Mr.X (fill in as needed) would be talking to you in a different, more respectable way?”
- “Do you feel that in your relationship the responsibilities are not quite shared equally and should be?”
- “Would you sometimes like to explain why you are having certain (political) opinions, but you seem to run into a wall with your counterpart?”
Essentially you could choose any example where at least two people are communicating with each other, if one would like the other to do, omit or understand something the way he wants.
Now, what is a negotiation?
The actual definition of negotiation reads: “A negotiation is an interaction in order to influence the behavior of at least on other person, whereby different interests are reconciled and brought about in a developing process” (find more on p20 of my Bestseller The Master Negotiator).
If your counterpart looks at it that way, they will find that the question is not “where do I negotiate?”, but much more “where do I not negotiate?”.
What if the negotiation is called “meeting”, “presentation”, or “discussion”?
Don´t get confused by nomenclature, like masking negotiations under terms like “conversation”, “meeting”, “discussion”, “performance talk” etc. These often obfuscate the picture of what you can contribute and change if you set your mind to it.
All relationships are products of negotiations, and thus negotiable, not only regarding contents, but also in the way the are being conducted:
If your colleagues need to convince people and develop their relationships, there is no way around working on negotiation skills.