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Managing Your Online Brand in the World’s Best & Worst Marketplace

By Jeff Beals

“Had a very long day today. Got into an argument with my boss and a client. All I want to do is drink a glass of wine and take it easy, but I have to do laundry tonight. Arrrgh!”

This is the text of a post I once read on a friend’s Facebook page. She was clearly frustrated after a tough day at the office.

There’s nothing earth-shattering about this post and certainly nothing unusual. We all have periodic days we would rather forget. It’s common to come home from work tired out, feeling sick to your stomach, knowing you have important work to take care of at home.

That said, the Facebook post above does nothing to build my friend’s personal brand, and worse yet, it probably harms it. In the branding game, we need to paint a picture, cast a vision of ourselves as interesting, fascinating and anything but ordinary. We should never lie when we make a post on the social media, but don’t focus on the mundane. Focus on those things that will make people want to know more about you, wish they were like you and want to go out of their way to work with you. Be special. Be fascinating. Be intriguing.

The Internet is the greatest marketplace ever invented, because it is available worldwide 24-hours a day, is so vast that every imaginable product or service is available, has low barriers to entry and is comprised of billions of prospective customers.

The Internet is also the worst marketplace ever invented, because it is available worldwide 24-hours a day, is so vast that every imaginable product or service is available, has low barriers to entry and is comprised of billions of prospective customers. It’s too loud and crowded, making it hard to be noticed.

While the Internet (and the social media that are a part of it) provides us with historically unprecedented access, it also provides us with unprecedented clutter. It is easy and challenging at the same time. It has the potential of bringing riches but is filled with land mines. You can’t afford to take missteps.

That’s why savvy professionals carefully manage their online brands just as they manage how their personal brands appear everywhere else. Below are a few pieces of advice to keep in mind as you promote your personal brand online and take advantage of the countless benefits that come from the world’s greatest and worst marketplace.

It’s a Game of Fundamentals – Regardless of the medium used, your personal branding must be of value and stand on its own merit. In other words, nobody is impressed just because you have a presence online. People are impressed if your presence is interesting, fresh and provides value to them. When determining what you’ll write or say online, think back to your area of self marketing expertise, the part of your professional self that is most interesting to other people. That’s what you talk about when you make posts on the social media.

The Invisible Man or Woman – I will periodically receive a call from a stranger, who says, “Jeff, I’d like to meet with you, get to know you and pick your brain. Do you have time for lunch next week?” As soon as I hang up, the first thing I do is Google that person. I want to know who I’m dealing with and what he or she is all about. Now, this may not be fair, but if nothing or very little pops up after I Google someone, I’m unimpressed. My assumption is that they don’t have much going on; they’re not involved in their profession or community.

It’s safe to assume people are Googling you too. When that happens, you MUST have a presence. A number of positive things about you should show up in their search results. To be safe, I recommend you Google your own name at least once a month. Also check Bing, Yahoo and other search engines just to make sure you cover all the bases.

If you are not satisfied with your search results, start building a better online presence now. Deliberately build a “Google trail” that people can follow to get to you:

1. Maximize social media. Postings, links and photographs show up in many searches.

2. Become a blogger. Write interesting articles about your area of self marketing expertise. You can also comment on others’ blogs.

3. Once you have a blog, submit your articles to the countless websites that publish articles written by a wide variety of people. Just make sure your writing is of high quality.

4. Tell everyone about each of your new blog articles via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

5. Shoot short but interesting videos related to your area of self marketing expertise and make them available on YouTube.

6. Post messages using your real name on discussion forums that relate to your profession. Just make sure the forums are legitimate.

7. Write reviews of products and services on various websites using your real name.

8. Develop your own personal website, where you post articles, photos and information about yourself in a flattering way.

9. If you are an officer in an organization or if you sit on a board of directors, see if the organization will include your name, bio and photo on its website.

10. Start a regular podcast.

Live Socially- The social media are such an important part of online branding, they deserve their own section:

1. Develop a nice list of friends, connections and followers on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Don’t just invite people willy-nilly. Make sure you know them or have had a professional interaction with them.

2. Participate in LinkedIn discussion groups

3. Ask and answer questions on LinkedIn. This has generated powerful results for many professionals.

4. Keep your profile information up to date especially on LinkedIn and include all your accomplishments. In a lot of ways, a LinkedIn profile is akin to your resume or professional bio.

5. Don’t just tweet. Re-tweet the tweets of other Twitter tweeters. 

Avoid the Gotcha’s – A few words of caution are in order: 1. Don’t succumb to the temptation and do anything online that would undo the hard work you put into building your personal brand. 2. Never slander or libel someone else. 3. You may want to disconnect from or de-friend anyone whose online behavior is unbecoming or unprofessional. 4. Carefully manage how you are depicted in photographs. Keep in mind that undesired photos of you may appear in someone else’s social media. 5. If you want to participate in non-professional discussion forums, consider using an alias or a pseudonym.

In conclusion, remember that your Internet presence is to you what a big advertisement in the yellow pages was for large companies 20 years ago. If you’re not easy to find, you might as well not exist. But just don’t put yourself out there for the sake of “existing.” Manage your online brand and carefully control your online presence. Be interesting and relevant, while always remembering that the most effective messages you can deliver are the ones that bring value to your readers, listeners and viewers.

Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to or call (402) 637-9300.

You are welcome to forward this article with author citation to anyone who might enjoy it.

Fall Is the True Season of Renewal When It Comes to Freshening Your Brand

By Jeff Beals

The first day of fall technically doesn’t start until September 23rd, but unofficially, the season is underway. I hope you had a nice Labor Day weekend. Perhaps you took a mini vacation? A weekend at the beach or lake? Barbeque?

As for my family, we packed our kids into the minivan and drove north to a family reunion in Minnesota. It was an enjoyable weekend, and not just because of the quality time spent with family – Labor Day marks the beginning of my favorite time of the year.

 There are many reasons I love the fall. I’m a big football fan. I like the fall holidays and the whole idea of a “harvest celebration.” I like being outside now that summer’s oppressive heat is yielding to fall’s cool nights where I live in the Midwest.

There’s another reason to love fall. It’s a time of renewal. That may seem like an odd statement, because typically people think of “renewal” being associated with other times of the year such as January 1st when we make our New Year’s resolutions or spring when the flowers are in full bloom.

But fall is nonetheless an important renewal time especially professional renewal. Children go back to school literally and professionals go back to school figuratively. It’s weird; no matter how many years go by since I finished college, I still tend to see my life as taking place in “semesters.” Fall is first semester. Then there’s the holiday season followed by the arduous slog known as the second semester. Then there’s summer break. Most of us professionals can’t take the whole summer off, but admittedly work slows down a bit.

So, we’re now at the beginning of the “first semester” in our professional calendar. Not only do we want to work hard, we want to work smart. And one of the smartest things you can do this semester is to strengthen your personal brand. Without any further adieu, here are some critical personal branding to-do’s for this fall:

Network your tail off – During the summer, many organizations suspend their regular meetings, because so many people take vacations or are involved in family activities. Now that fall is here, great networking events are back on the docket. In many cities, major philanthropy events are held in the fall. Don’t miss the opportunity to see and be seen as often as possible. Remember that networking is just like any other type of marketing in that frequency and repetition matter. You need to talk to many people and you need to be in front of people over and over.

Focus on relationships – Your success, at least in part, depends on your relationships with other people, but in this perpetually stubborn economy, they are even more important. I believe people are inherently more interested in meeting new people and going deeper with existing acquaintances in the fall. Keep in mind the order of developing healthy business relationships: First you establish rapport, and then you foster a relationship. Eventually, you can develop trust. When that happens, all things in business are possible.

Find the Fascinating – Determine what is most interesting about your career and your line of work and then exploit it. I call it your “area of self marketing expertise.” That’s what you talk about when you meet new people, not the mundane, technical details that will cause a lay person’s eyes to glaze over in boredom.

Get serious about social media – There are still too many professionals who have grossly inadequate brands online. Social media to people are what the Yellow Pages were to businesses 20 years ago – THE place where prospective clients and prospective employers find out about you. Don’t just have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Make sure you post material that is interesting and not just inane personal stuff. Use social media to strengthen your reputation by building on your area of self-marketing expertise.

Broaden Your Reach – Everyone should have a personal target audience, a group of people who must hear your personal brand message because those people happen to be critical to your success. This fall, assess what types of people are in your personal target audience and determine if you need to add additional categories to reach your ultimate goals.

Enjoy this fall, and remember that the work you do now should make life easier and richer next year.

Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to or call (402) 637-9300.

You are welcome to forward this article with author citation to anyone who might enjoy it.

Face-to-Face Communication Still Works

By Jeff Beals

National associations are famous for holding big conventions each year.  Some conventions are so big they attract tens of thousands of attendees. 

 As you might imagine, it takes a great deal of work to pull off one of these big events.  Programs need to be planned, speakers booked, volunteers recruited, attendees encouraged to attend, logistics squared away…

One of the biggest decisions is where to have the event, and that is sometimes determined years in advance. 

Cities love hosting conventions.  They bring in out-of-town guests, who tend to be traveling on expense accounts and are looking to have some fun in addition to working.  Localities want conventions so badly, they often throw financial incentives at the meeting planners in hopes of landing the business.  In other words, the person planning the convention has their pick of cities and convention facilities.

When a meeting planner or a site selection consultant is looking for a venue for a convention or a major industry meeting, they consider a number of factors:

–          Quality of the meeting facilities

–          Nearby attractions

–          Proximity of entertainment and restaurants

And then there’s the hotel.  Planners prefer a hotel that is either big enough to host the event within it or is right next door to a major convention center.  The hotel must be nice-looking, offer a range of amenities and have an adequate number of rooms.  But there is one thing that is an absolute MUST in order for a convention hotel to make the cut:  it has to have a very large, full-service bar. 

Yep, that’s right.  A great bar and lounge area in the convention hotel is generally considered a non-negotiable requirement.  Why you ask?  It’s not because convention attendees want to drink more on the road than they do at home (although they typically do).  It’s because of something much more important – an age-old, primitive business practice known as networking. 

Isn’t that interesting?  Organizations spend large amounts of time and money making everything just right for a convention, yet one of the most important parts of the experience comes when attendees retire to the bar after the last general session and simply network – build ties and bonds with their colleagues from other cities, states or countries.  They share ideas, refer business and counsel one another.  Despite the many sophisticated and highly valuable things modern business meetings offer, much of the value that comes from the event occurs late in the evening in the crowded hotel lobby bar.

We business folks have become so sophisticated, yet we’re still hopelessly tied to our ancient tribal instincts.  You know what?  That’s okay.  Actually, it’s more than okay; it’s great.  People make business what it is.  People make business interesting.  People make business meaningful.  People make business worthwhile.

No matter how sophisticated we become, nothing is as effective as in-person learning and one-on-one networking.  Those companies and professionals that remember this tend to do better and sell more products and services.

Think about it…we have access to live webinars, DVD recordings, interactive, computer-based learning programs.  Nevertheless, people still love to experience a great speaker in person.  They still benefit from taking continuing education courses in a room full of people from a qualified person standing there in the flesh.

Think about it…we so many ways to deliver our marketing messages to clients via mass media, social media and sophisticated email campaigns.  Nevertheless, salespersons still have to call prospects on the phone one at a time or show up at their offices to make a pitch. 

It’s easy to say “no” to an advertisement, a tweet or a DVD you receive in the mail.  It’s harder to say “no” when someone sits down with you, listens to your needs and wants and personally explains why their product or service will benefit you and your unique situation.

Enjoy the modern business world and all its technical conveniences.  After all, this is a cool time to be a professional.

But don’t be misled and lulled to sleep by all the wondrous tools at your disposal.  While those gizmos certainly help, you still have to reach out and shake hands if you want to make it big.

The next time you go to a convention, test this out.  Enjoy the speakers, take notes at the break-out sessions, attend the awards banquet, but at about 10 p.m., stroll through the hotel lobby bar.  Notice how many people from your convention are there.  Join the conversation and build long-term collegial relationships that can enhance your success for years and years to come.

Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to or call (402) 637-9300.

You are welcome to forward this article with author citation to anyone who might enjoy it.

Big Power in a Little Word

By Jeff Beals

Your English teacher isn’t going to like this.

Don’t get me wrong; the grammar and composition you learned in high school English class are critically important, but those rules don’t necessarily apply all the time.

Allow me to explain.

Your old English teacher would have preferred you write, “By carefully employing certain words, a professional gains a powerful advantage when selling his or her products or when trying to persuade others to accept his or her ideas.”

Here’s a slightly different version: “By carefully employing certain words, you gain a powerful advantage when selling your products or when trying to persuade others to accept your ideas.”

What’s the difference? 

These two statements essentially say the same thing, but the first one is written in “third person,” while the second one is written in “second person.”  English teachers would prefer the first statement.  In formal writing, it is generally frowned upon to use the words, “I” or “you.”  Scholarly journals, text books and respected periodicals are normally written in third person. 

Proper English is a beautiful thing, but when it comes to succeeding in today’s loud and crowded marketplace, you benefit by catching people’s attention.  You are more likely to accomplish your goals if you relate to people.  Using the word “you” (and “your”) helps you do that.

No matter what your profession, there are times when your success depends on your ability to sell, pitch, market, convince, persuade, trade, suggest, coach, counsel, explain, and/or motivate another person. That all becomes easier if you address your reader or listener directly in the second person.

So, if you’re explaining something in an email, try to use the word “you.”  If you’re giving a speech to prospective clients, paint a picture with “you.”  If you want to empower and motivate your colleagues, use “you” to make your message resonate with them.

The word, “you” personalizes a conversation.  It brings down barriers and erodes the formalities that may exist between you and the other person. 

“You” can help prospective clients picture themselves using your products and services. For instance, if you are selling a time-share condo overlooking the ocean, your would-be buyer might be receptive to this marketing message:

“Picture yourself spending two weeks here every year. You can sleep in each morning in this king-sized bed, windows open with the sea breeze gently waking you up before you head over to your ultra-modern kitchen for your morning coffee.  You step out onto your deck overlooking the massive resort pool. Your only problem here in paradise will be deciding what to do.  Will you relax by the pool or will you take one of the hundreds of day adventures waiting for you in the surrounding area?”

Where do I sign up? 

When I’m writing books or delivering speeches, I try to put “you” into the text even if the story I’m telling is about somebody else. When I use a highly successful person’s life or accomplishments to illustrate a point, I occasionally like to slip in “you” and “your” when I’m really talking about “him/his” or “her/hers.”  Audience members are more likely to remember the point, if they feel like they are part of the story.

YOU will be a much more effective seller, marketer and persuader if YOU simply remember to transpose YOUR audience into YOUR stories.

One last thing – I have one important disclaimer for you. 

There is a particular use of the word “you” that may backfire on you.  Careful communicators avoid saying, “you must,” “you should,” “you better” or “you have to.”  That’s bossy.  It turns people off.  Such language reminds you of when you were in trouble as a kid, like when your mother demanded:

“You have to clean your room!”

“You better finish your homework before you go outside!”

Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to or call (402) 637-9300.

You are welcome to forward this article with author citation to anyone who might enjoy it.

A Personal Target Audience Liberates You!

By Jeff Beals

Whether you’re in Atlanta or Austin, San Diego or San Antonio, shopping malls and retail centers generally look alike.  The products, displays, signage and building architecture are so uniform that it’s hard to tell whether you’re in New Orleans or New York.  There’s a reason for that.  Malls are carefully designed for a specific reason and for certain consumers.

An upper-middle-class, 35-year-old woman spends a couple hours in an upscale shopping mall.  She enjoys being there so much, that it seems as if the mall and all the things in it are specifically designed just for her.

That’s because they are.

Studies have shown that women make the vast majority of purchases, so women make up a huge part of a retailer’s “target market” or “target audience,” a group of people with shared characteristics that make a person more likely to buy a certain product or service.  Women with higher household incomes usually make more and larger purchases, so income would be another critical characteristic for a retail target audience.  Education, age and cultural aspects are also considered when a company determines its target audience. 

Women purchase 70 percent of all books sold.  Given that, Barnes & Noble and Borders are logically more concerned about women than men.  It only makes sense to focus your marketing resources on the segment of the population that’s most inclined to buy what you purvey.  People buy more during certain periods of their lives; that’s why advertisers are obsessed with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Of course, not all marketing is geared toward women.  News-talk radio stations target men.  Professional wrestling and video games target teenage boys.  You don’t see many beer commercials going after female drinkers.

Whatever business you’re in, you figure out what segment of the world is most important and you zero in on that group. 

While it takes work to identify all the specific characteristics a company considers in the makeup of its target audience, it’s an essential endeavor. Having a target audience not only makes money, it’s liberating. 

Think about it – the world is a big place. Billions of people are alive today.  The thought of marketing to all of them is staggering, but fortunately, marketers focus on niches, narrow slices of the population. The trick is to identify the appropriate slice.

The same thing applies when marketing yourself, for you are a product. You are a brand.  You need a “personal” target audience. 

In order to promote yourself effectively, you must become a celebrity in your own “sphere of interest.” Every professional has a sphere of interest. It’s your own narrow slice of the population. It’s your very own personal target audience. It’s comprised of those people, who in any way, can help you reach your goals – clients, prospective clients, those who refer clients, someone who could hire you, someone who could get you on a coveted committee or board.

Among these people, you need to be famous. When someone in your personal target audience needs the services or products you provide, your name and face should pop into their minds. When someone is looking for people to invite to a special occasion, your name needs to be at the top of the list. You are a highly desired person in your community or industry when a large number of people in your personal target audience have heard of you.

But before you can become a celebrity, you need to determine who is in your personal target audience. This is determined by your career, life mission, goals and personality.

Once you know who is in your personal target audience, manage it carefully. Just like a company managing its prospective clients, you as an individual must diligently manage your personal target audience and lavish attention upon it. The people in your personal target audience are precious, critical to your success.

If you tend to your personal target audience, it will yield positive results and help you achieve greater personal and professional success.

Now that we have established this, it’s time to think about your personal target audience. What types of people need to know about you? Where are they? How do you reach them?

There may be billions of people in today’s loud and crowded marketplace, but it’s comforting to know that you can become famous enough by chasing only a minuscule percentage of them. In order to get your message to connect with the right niche, think about what you do and who is in your personal target audience. 

Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to or call (402) 637-9300.

You are welcome to forward this article with author citation to anyone who might enjoy it.


What Separates the Good from the Great

By Jeff Beals

If you go to work every day, you might as well go all the way and shoot for the pinnacle of your profession. It’s a competitive world, so set your sights high. If you’re going to take the risk and invest the time, strive for greatness.

Ever since Jim Collins wrote his best-selling book, Good to Great, in 2001, business people worldwide have been fixated on greatness. Why do some companies do so well when a similar competitor languishes? Why do some companies transition from being merely successful to being truly great? What traits and behaviors separate the good from the great?

Of course, good-versus-great questions apply not only to companies; they can be asked of people who want to be great salespersons or marketers.

And remember, everyone is in sales and marketing regardless of their title.

Whether you’re selling medical equipment, working in business development or brokering international business transactions, it’s frankly easy to fail. Salespersons, marketers and dealmakers in every profession commonly fail. Some succeed, but only a tiny percentage achieves greatness.

The question then is what sales-and-marketing traits will lead you to the top of your profession?

Character – Great professionals are ethical and honest. They don’t tell a client or colleague what he or she wants to hear, it’s what they need to hear. Leaders with character tend to hire employees who are also upstanding citizens. Together, they attract clients of character. Everybody wins.

Be competitive – “Second don’t mean nothin’,” said Hall of Fame football coach Barry Switzer who led the Oklahoma Sooners to three national championships and the Dallas Cowboys to the Superbowl. Play to win. Be persistent. Don’t let anything fall through the cracks. Keep track of your competition and do what it takes to run at least a couple steps ahead of them. Be bold for the world has no room for shrinking violets.

Interpersonal skills – It sure helps if you possess some charisma, but rule number one is to listen. Great professionals listen and truly HEAR. When you are engaged in conversation, remember it’s not about you; it’s about your client.

Strategic Thinking – Have a plan that takes into account the big picture. What’s your philosophy? Strong organizations have developed mission and vision statements. Great individuals need them too.

Focus – Whether you are looking at this from an organizational perspective or a personal one, determine your competencies and spend the majority of your time, energy and resources working on those. If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels, ask yourself, “Am I doing what is truly important?”

Have a good product – Contrary to the popular saying, nobody can really sell ice to Eskimos. If your product or service doesn’t stand on its own merit, trying to sell it is no different than beating your head against the wall.

Others first – Real estate agents, accountants and trustees are said to have “fiduciary” responsibilities to their clients. In other words, they are legally required to put the client’s interest before their own. No matter what you do, pretend you have a fiduciary duty to the customers you serve. If you do this, you will build rapport, which leads to a relationship, which leads to the holy grail of sales and marketing: trust.

Ability to handle stress – “There are many guys who can paint an incredibly cogent picture of why a company should be investing in China or why a football team should run a certain offense,” says Joe Moglia, who serves as both chairman of TD Ameritrade and a head coach in the United Football League. “The reality is, when things are not going well, when you’re losing money in China, and your guys keep fumbling the ball, how do you handle yourself?”

Keep prospecting – No matter how busy you are as you put the finishing touches a big deal, remember to think about future deals. Always take time to fill your hopper, so you always have a steady supply of business. Don’t get emotionally attached to a certain piece of business, because you give up your power. Always go where the business is, where your best prospects live. It makes no sense to fish for business in a deserted lake.

Wrap it up – Ultimately, the purpose of marketing is to get somebody to say “yes.” Know what you hope to achieve from a prospect before you meet him or her and then keep steering the conversation toward closure.

Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to or call (402) 637-9300.

Let Me Tell You a Story…

By Jeff Beals

If you ask any historian to name the greatest leaders in western civilization, there’s a good chance the 16th president of the United States will make the list. He willed his country to victory in the gut-wrenching Civil War, issued the Emancipation Proclamation and facilitated the eventual ratification of the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery.

A number of traits contributed to Abraham Lincoln’s greatness. He possessed a brilliant intellect. He had an uncommon amount of common sense. He was a thinker, someone who philosophically examined the world and crafted a rationalized set of personal beliefs by which he steadfastly lived.

While he was blessed with many talents, Lincoln’s greatest attribute may have been his ability to communicate. He was a skilled orator who eloquently wrote many of his own speeches. He listened sincerely when others spoke. He empathized. He mastered the art of interpersonal communications several decades before the term “interpersonal communications” was coined.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to credit Lincoln as one of history’s greatest communicators. But of all the communications techniques he so successfully employed, there was one where he especially shone.

Abraham Lincoln was a remarkable storyteller.

Lincoln succeeded under some of the most difficult leadership conditions any U.S. president has had to face. To communicate is such times, he often resorted to stories. Instead of berating the incompetent generals who blundered in the Civil War’s early battles, Lincoln educated and motivated them by using stories. To smooth over ruffled political feathers with members of Congress, Lincoln would pull out a story and use it to establish common ground.

Among history’s eminent leaders, however, Lincoln was not unique in his reliance upon stories. Political leaders throughout the ages have moved the masses by using stories to communicate their political platforms. In modern days, big-time CEOs use storytelling to mobilize international staffs in the quest for billions of dollars of profit. Jesus Christ himself used parables and story-based lessons to enlighten his disciples.

Indeed, stories pack a punch. They’re powerful. They paint pictures. They work, because our human brains are conditioned to listen to and be receptive to stories. Long before the written word, and long before Gutenberg invented the printing press, people used stories to communicate histories and traditions as well as norms and expectations. In other words, our ancestors sat around the fire every night and told stories. The propensity to tell and listen to stories is essentially a part of our DNA.

So, if people are so receptive to storytelling, you and I would be foolish not to use stories in our work. Good storytellers tend to be effective leaders and successful salespersons. If you manage people, teach them and motivate them by conveying important information through stories. If you sell products and services, use a story to paint a picture in your prospect’s mind. By making the product or service part of a story, prospective clients mentally project themselves into the story. Once someone makes that kind of psychological commitment, they’re much more likely to buy.

Let’s say we asked the same prospective client to sit through two sales presentations for competing products. Both salespersons touched on features and benefits. Salesperson One was very straightforward and focused on delivering factual content. Salesperson Two was accurate but explained the features and benefits using stories. A couple of the stories were about previous clients who enjoyed positive results from using the product. I guarantee the second salesperson has a higher likelihood of landing the client.

One of the most important skills in sales is the ability to overcome objections. Well, if you get an objection, tell a story to keep the deal alive. Are you ready to deliver your close? Make it more desirable by couching it inside a story. Has the process become mired? Advance it by telling a story.

Whether you are managing a staff, selling a service, delivering a speech, trying to persuade voters to elect you or attempting to resolve a conflict between two of your colleagues, make it easier by spinning a yarn. Stories reassure people and disarm them.

As you make a commitment to including more stories in your daily work, keep a couple things in mind:

1. Stories must be relative to the situation at hand.

2. Know when to shut up. If a story goes on too long, it loses its effectiveness

3. Think about the work you do and determine what kinds of stories could be effective in certain situations.

4. Catalog stories in your mind. Look back on your own experiences as well as the experiences of your colleagues. Make a list of stories to have at your disposal, so you can use them whenever it’s expedient.

Every product, service, business and person has a story, probably multiple stories. The trick is to pull out these stories and use them to your benefit at the appropriate times. After all, if President Lincoln used stories to save a country, we would be wise to use them to save our businesses and careers.

Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to or call (402) 637-9300.

You are welcome to forward this article (with author citation) to anyone who might benefit from it.

Relax. You’re Doing the Audience a Favor

By Jeff Beals

When you see the old films of Elvis Presley performing live on stage, you can’t help but notice his energy, his extreme talent and his confidence. A guy would have to be awfully darned confident to perform the way Elvis did especially considering how edgy he was for that period of time.

Wait a minute…Not so fast.

A look at Elvis’ life history might surprise you. At times, Elvis suffered from stage fright, that terrible feeling characterized by shallow breaths, accelerated heartbeats, dizziness, sweaty palms and a dry mouth.

Well, if the King of Rock & Roll struggled with stage fright, the rest of us shouldn’t feel so bad. Almost everyone deals with that inconvenient form of social anxiety at least sometime during his or her life. I speak professionally, and I still get a tinge of it every once in a while.

Fortunately, stage fright can be managed. Learning how to control it is important, because most professionals have to speak publicly on a periodic basis. In a loud and crowded marketplace, your success may very well depend on your ability to deliver the goods in front of an audience. The better you are as a speaker, the more business and career opportunities you’ll enjoy.

Know that stage fright is a very natural part of public speaking. Some nervousness is a good thing, because it pushes us to prepare, concentrate and do a good job. When you run the risk of embarrassing yourself in front of a large group of people, you are likely to focus on the task and do your best.

The key to overcoming stage fright is to manage it. Here are a few tips that help me deal with it:

Accept stage fright as a fact of life – The first few times you speak, you will be nervous. As you become more experienced, most nervousness will subside. For your first speech, just stand up and force yourself to do it. Once you start speaking and get a few sentences out, the nervousness usually fades.

Stall for a bit – If your heart is pounding and your lungs are breathing rapidly as you approach the podium, take a few moments before you jump into your script. Straighten your papers, adjust the microphone, thank the person who introduced you and say something nice about him or her. Look out at the audience and smile before you begin talking. This small sequence of events can help you catch your breath and settle into speaking mode.

Don’t let the joke be on you – A lot of people will advise you, “tell a joke at the beginning; it loosens up the crowd and calms the speaker’s nerves.” That’s true as long as the joke is actually funny. A bad joke goes over like a lead balloon. If you are not positive your joke is funny, and that you are capable of delivering it properly, don’t do it. Nothing flusters an inexperienced speaker more than a joke that bombs.

They’re only human – Here’s some age-old advice: “pretend the audience members are all wearing underwear.” I can’t say that I’ve ever done this, but I like the spirit and intent of this advice. In other words, audience members are only human. They have as many or more problems and inadequacies as you do. Don’t build them into some monolithic gathering of super beings. Most of them would be nervous too if they were in your shoes.

A friendly face – Pretend you are talking to one person you know very well. It could be a spouse, parent, best friend, whoever. This personalizes the audience. For most people, it’s much easier to talk to a trusted friend instead of a room full of strangers.

Get a little cocky – Remind yourself that the audience is there to see and hear YOU. That means you are doing them a favor. You are providing them with education, entertainment and energy they do not currently have. They are lucky you are willing to take your valuable time to give it to them.

Confident body language regardless of how nervous you may be – When I am introduced as a speaker, I stand up, and walk confidently toward the podium. I look the introducer in the eye and give him/her a firm handshake. It’s hard to explain why, but an outward show of confidence helps me feel more confident on the inside too.

Pauses aren’t as long as you think – Don’t panic if you lose your place or if you become short of breath during the speech. Simply pause until you find your place. To the speaker, pauses seem ten times longer than they really are. Actually, pauses are important speaking tools. They break up the monotony and can wake up a drifting audience member.

Dream about the end – With each sentence you utter, you move closer to the end reward – the applause. Remind yourself that your hard work, concentration and endurance of stage fright all pay off when the speech is done.

Be proactive – The more you prepare, the more confident you are about your material. Secondly, as the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. Practice not only makes your speech better, it makes you more comfortable. The day before a speech, drive to the venue. Simply seeing the place and knowing the route to get there can put your mind at ease.

Arrive at the venue early – If you are weaving in and out of traffic desperately trying to beat the clock, you will be flustered before you even get there. Arriving early allows you to chit-chat with audience members ahead of time. This helps you to bond with audience members and serves to “warm you up” before going on stage.

Finally, take some time the day before or the morning of the speech to “visualize” success. It is common for coaches to have their athletes imagine themselves making great plays. I believe in the power of positive visualization and use it frequently. When I am driving to any important event in which I have to perform or accomplish something, I imagine myself being confident, knowledgeable and successful. Try it sometime. It really works.

Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to or call (402) 637-9300.

You are welcome to forward this article (with author citation) to anyone who might benefit from it.

Value Lives in Your Client’s Mind

by Jeff Beals

If you want to sell more widgets, stop selling widgets.

If you want to sell more real estate, insurance or financial planning services, stop selling real estate, insurance and financial planning services.

If you represent Tupperware, Avon or Pampered Chef, stop selling those things too.

The world’s most successful salespersons don’t sell products and services. They sell VALUE. In other words, instead of selling insurance, you’re selling security, protection and peace of mind. Instead of selling Pampered Chef products, you are selling prestige, coolness and an easier way to prepare gourmet food.

Now, before all you “non-salespersons” stop reading this article, consider this: Regardless of what you do for a living, you are in sales. Everyone sells. Here’s why: 1. If you work for a company, you have a moral obligation to promote that company whenever you have the chance. After all, your job might depend on it. 2. You’re always selling yourself – possibly for a new job, a promotion, a better assignment within an existing job or for perks/benefits. 3. If you have an idea that will make your employer more successful, you may have to sell that idea to the ultimate decision maker. 4. If you are involved in a civic or philanthropic organization, you may have to sell the organization’s mission in order to raise funds and attract volunteers.

Suffice it to say, you are indeed working in sales. Everyone is in sales. That’s why it’s so essential to understand the importance of “value” in your work.

That point was driven home when I attended a recent workshop facilitated by Steve Lishansky, CEO of Boston-based Optimize International, a consulting firm that coaches Fortune 500 company executives. Lishansky teaches that clients are eager to pay for those individuals or companies that provide them with compelling value.

You don’t want to be paid for the job, hour, gig, order, product, showing, presentation, contract, deal, project etc. You want to be paid for the value you bring to the client. And if you do a truly effective job of establishing value, you then can receive regular income from that client on an on-going basis. As Lishansky teaches, you must be seen as an investment, not an expense.

How do you go about convincing a client that you provide great value? Lishansky identifies several prerequisites.

Delivery – Consistently deliver outstanding results. With so much competition in the world, clients have the right to assume that all providers are competent. Make sure you are more than competent in your operations.

Interpersonal Communication – You will have a hard time determining what the client values if you don’t communicate thoroughly and listen carefully.

Relationships and Trust – Do what it takes to build a strong bond with your clients.

In the seminar, Lishansky asked participants to close their eyes and imagine their most difficult clients. Then he asked us what was noticeably different between those clients and our best clients. The answers all came down to relationships. If the relationship is strong enough, you can trust your clients to tell them what they need to hear as opposed to what they want to hear. Even if the client gets mad, your relationship is so strong, that he or she won’t leave you.

Once you establish trust, you pave the way for value, because as Lishansky says, “value lives in your client’s mind.”

Next, we must understand what Lishansky calls the Client Clarity Paradox: 1. You understand what is most important to your client; and 2. You can do something about it. Importantly, numbers 1 and 2 must happen in this exact order. The problem is that many professions get the order backwards. They are too focused on proving they can do something for the client before they take the time to truly understand who the client is, what is important to the client and what problems the client desperately needs to solve.

As you continue moving forward in your career, and you sell whatever it is that you must sell, remember Steve Lishansky’s teachings on value. Focus on the client. Determine what is most important to him or her. Remember that value lives in their minds, not yours.

Ultimately, you are not in the product- or service-selling business. You’re in the results-selling business. The right results, along with a trusting relationship are what your clients truly value.

By the way, you can learn more about Steve Lishansky at

Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to or call (402) 637-9300.

You are welcome to forward this article (with author citation) to anyone who might benefit from it.

Top 10 Ways to Build a Bigger Personal Brand

By Jeff Beals

As a hard-working professional, you’re not just a person. You’re a business, a business of one, a business unto yourself.

As a business of one, you have a personal brand, a reputation that must be carefully maintained and zealously promoted. In today’s economy, effective personal branding has never been more important. You need to build a big presence in this loud and crowded world.

Regardless of your occupation, you are probably struggling with the increasing “commoditization” that now defines our economy. You may be the best at what you do, but there are still so many competitors in your marketplace. In an era of commoditization, consumers have more choices than they know what to do with. Clients often assume all providers are competent, so they end up making their choices based on a professional’s personal brand.

So, when someone is ready for the products or services you provide, how can your personal brand stand out in a crowd? If you’re a good self marketer, you have little to fear. You need to be the professional whose name and face pop into the client’s head when it’s time to buy.

Building a bigger personal brand takes work, but anyone with at least moderate talent can do it. The key is to follow certain steps.

The Top 10 Ways to Build a Bigger Brand:

1. See yourself as a business entity, not just a person
2. Think like a marketer (apply classic marketing principles to yourself)
3. Determine who is in your personal target audience, your “sphere of interest”
4. Exploit the part of your expertise that is most interesting to outsiders
5. Live actively and network every day (yes, that’s literally every day)
6. Foster relationships with local media
7. Become a writer and speaker within your area of expertise
8. Promote yourself 24-hours-a-day on the Internet (when people Google your name, they better see you show up)
9. Use social media (make sure what you say is interesting and not just inane personal stuff)
10. Make people feel important – (when you are talking to someone, make him or her feel like the only person in the world who matters to you at that moment).

You have sole ownership of your personal brand, but it comes with a burden. You bear the responsibility for building that brand, shaping it and promoting it to the general public. As a self marketer, you can recruit the services of others, but the responsibility to carry out a marketing strategy is ultimately yours.

Don’t let other people or any haunting feelings of self doubt stand in your way. Successful professionals have to stick their necks out and take risks. Not only is it worth the risk, but establishing a well-known personal brand is essential in today’s ultra competitive marketplace.

Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to or call (402) 637-9300.

You are welcome to forward this article (with author citation) to anyone who might benefit from it.