I remember when it hit me all those years ago, the realization that many of the professional speakers who were invited to speak at conferences were popular, but not as good as me at delivering the message to the audience!

It took me a few months of research, making notes and working out where I was going wrong. Why was I not Miss Popular? How could I become popular, well liked, respected and gain more speaking engagements. Why did the HR person or the Speakers Bureau pick someone other than me to speak at a conference?

This takes me back to High School in the UK when I was not popular at all, because I was very shy and people thought I was unfriendly or rude.

Here are a few of the things I discovered:

  • My brand was not well known at that time, I was a hidden gem.
  • I was not actively giving back to charities, in the form of my time or money.
  • The big one – I was not networking consistently to be seen and for people to get to know me.

Let’s think about the brand first. Once we have built a recognized brand, that is memorable, we are then seen in a different light. I always suggest to my clients that their brand should be worked on before trying to sell to their potential customers.

Giving back to charities, in the form of time or money is essential, it offers us a chance to help organizations we believe in. But when you are in the process of starting your business you will be swamped with all of the tasks you have to do before you can even think about volunteering. You will be juggling family and business and that’s work enough. But once you feel comfortable you have at least some strong foundations for your business, it’s a great idea to give back to your local community and volunteer some time. This is a wonderful opportunity also to meet local people, ask them if you can be of assistance, and of course stay in touch with them to build a trusted relationship.

Networking is crucial before you start your business or even if you are looking for a new position with another organization. It allows you to be seen to be seen, it offers seminars which are educational and of course your brand is showcased and you build those trusted relationships.

When you feel the above three points are taken care of you might notice that you are not Mr or Mrs Popular and the popularity contest prize goes to a competitor who is not even offering excellent customer service or their products and services are not up to par. Why is this?

People do business with people they like and trust. You may be networking with the wrong people, in the sense that you give and they take. It could be that you are shy, or reticent to showcase how fantastic your business is. People judge us by our actions, whether we smile, hug, or if we appear friendly, or angry.

Build your own army of loyal influencers who really know you and know your business and understand your brand. Collaborate with each other, help each other, become each other’s brand advocates, but above all be honest with each other.

Everyone can’t be our customers.¬†We know our target market so are we reaching those people and if so what are we doing to build trust, be memorable and be the business they chose to work with?

A couple of things you can do to ensure you stay on track would be to:

  • Measure the success of your networking efforts. I offer awesome tips and ideas on this topic in my newly published book, Business Networking in a Nutshell, Secrets From the Social Sweetheart.
  • Follow up with the people you connect with at the charity events you volunteer your time with, potential clients, and of course loyal clients. Send out a calendar or a note of sorts so that they remember you.
  • Use social media to influence people to notice you. Share their posts, articles, tips, comment on their content.
  • Don’t make it all about business, be social, but remember what people see on line and face to face can either encourage them to want to do business with you or do the complete opposite.
  • Be consistent. Never over promise and under deliver.
  • Befriend the people who are your competitors who appear to be winning the popularity contest. What is it about them that makes people like them?

Ultimately it takes time to build your brand, build trust and build your client base, but if you take the time to build strong foundations and follow a few steps, such as I have suggested you will be the person who wins the popularity contest.

The point it, we might think someone is popular and their client base is growing faster than ours, but in reality we have no idea if this is true and if it is why this is happening. Let’s imagine it’s true, do we know if it’s because they are cutting their prices to gain all the customers? Maybe they offer less for less? Or is it because they offer something you don’t offer? We don’t really know why someone may appear popular and gaining all the customers.

Above all don’t try to fit in and be someone you are not, be authentic and be the person who stands out from the crowd.