Advancement Strategies: An Informative Glimpse Into Our Interactive Symposium

IMG_3277 (1)Interested and interesting people. Once again, we filled a room with them….70 of them, as we provided yet another remarkable and informative evening full of discussion, business insight, and cross-industry networking. Last Thursday’s WAC Advancement Strategy Symposium, held at The Blackstone Group LP, was a tremendous success, both before it even began, and as it unfolded. This is the case with each of our events, due in part to a special formula we keep in place which allows the subject matter to be reinforced in the participants’ minds. Instead of the Symposium simply being a “listening” event, we took extraordinary efforts to transform it into a “doing” event.

Finding A Rhythm

In a format of 2 separate panel discussions moderated by Deborah Goldstein, six esteemed panelists graciously gave us their time that evening, not to mention their techniques and secrets in the arenas of business development and personal brand. “Striving to be different” and “designing one’s referable message” are the themes that were seamlessly tackled, prompting an unrelenting pulse of energy to permeate the conference room for the entirety of the presentation. Such an energy, as would soon be demonstrated, perched a glowing light bulb over each of those 70 heads, establishing a provocative and extraverted proclivity among even the shyest in the group.

All in a Night’s Work

Some say offering so much monumental advice under one roof is downright daring. Well, we dared to take it one bold step further! In a series of breakout exercises, we directed our attendees to turn to the person sitting next to them, and engage in applying what they’d just heard to their own career situations.  Talk about “doing”! These folks were able to come away from the evening with both an outlook and some face-time experience under their belts.

Breakout Discussion #1: Standing OutIMG_3238

Seth Godin says “Dare to be different.” He may not have been the first to use those words, but he is celebrated for applying them to personal brand development. Being different is how you stand out in business, while “blending in is what the hunted do” (a little advice from Deborah’s esteemed colleague Justin Foster!). Several of our panelists offered clever and unique ways to stand out, many of which may had never occurred to even the most witty in the room.

Some advice was as simple as having a look within yourself to discover the ways in which you excel (you’re a good connector, you’re authentic and open, you don’t let rejection get you down) vs your shortcomings (you have a nervous laugh, you speak to rapidly, you’re resistant to feedback). One special suggestion involved transcending the predictable “sell” approach. Instead of trying to offer your client a service that you had in mind, diagnose your client’s real, unforeseen need and compose a solution from that perspective.  You’ll be strengthening your bond with the client while achieving true and relevant results. Stand out in this manner with a dozen other clients, and watch as you build a reputation for being “in demand”.

Our attendees then got a chance to take their own stand-out traits for a spin, as they pivoted to one side and engaged with their neighbors in the next seat for 10 minutes. The value of this exercise is exhibited in the impressive Baby Steps these folks volunteered after the presentation.

IMG_1333Breakout Discussion #2: The Referable Message

Our second panel contributed a bounty of profound business advice to rival the first. Clearly, the highlight this time related to the idea of the Referable Message….that is, the value proposition that you allow to resonate through your industry about your services. Again, it takes being clever, in addition to being ambitious and honest, to pull off an effective and penetrating referable message. But it might be well worth the intellectual investment.

Let’s face it: People dislike being sold to. They can see “salesey-ness” coming a mile away, and in too many instances, the salesey approach proves more of a barrier than bonder. Knowing this, consider how priceless it can be to take the indirect approach of having other industry people on the street spreading the good word about your company. Daniel Gerschel of Merrill Lynch shared his referable message; he demystifies the potential client’s investment. This describes what he does in a manner that’s easy to repeat. The key is to keep the message concise, or devise a message that stands out as direct to the point of being charming or humorous.

Participants this time around were asked to engage with their neighbor once again, and practice their own referable messages. The mindset was “it’s your responsibility to train others to refer you or hire you.” With that in place, they were to pinpoint 3 ideal referrals for the other party to introduce them to, since they could benefit from their services. How’s that for getting the wheels turning?

More to ComeIMG_1659

If you missed our community event this time around, there will be several more chances for you to engage in 2015 alone. See also our schedule of virtual events and live workshops that offer similarly sophisticated tools and techniques for getting ahead in business. This time, many thanks go out to Blackstone Group for hosting us, to our 6 panelists for lending us their time and knowledge, and to all of our attendees, without whom the magic couldn’t happen!