Who should hire you? Who has the funds to hire you? Where can you find these people?
Make a list and describe your answers.
For example, one of the markets that hires me is meeting planners. Do you know this market? Describe the type of people who are meeting planners. What associations do you they belong to? Do this for your market?
Meeting planners – They work independently doing contract work for companies or they are in-house planners. These folks are multi-taskers, who enjoy working under deadlines and have a high stress tolerance. Organization is a must to be successful. Their job description is wide, from booking airlines reservations, to picking out the color of napkins, to getting security for the event. Planners need to know everything and communicated with to everyone. You will see them at the event with a headset on and tennis shoes on their feet running around putting out fires. If you can be easy to work with, they will hire you more often. Typically, there are more women than men and their ages are 30-55 year old.
They belong to MPI, PCMA, ASTD, ASAE, ISES, just to name a few. If this is my market, have I been a member or been to their meetings? You bet I have. For the Seattle Chapter of the International Special Events Society, I was on the founding board and the program chair for three years. For the Meetings Professional International, I have presented at the local chapter and regional event, while attending the meetings occasionally. For the other associations, I have attended and observed their meetings. Their websites show you what is important to them. Read about their leadership team, newsletter and events. You will see who goes to these meetings as well as learning their jargon from their newsletters.
In my balloon twisting days (1996-2003), I put in my time to understand my market. My fellow balloon twisters in Seattle were charging $85-100 and hour, while I was charging $500-$600 an hour. Was I a better twister? Maybe, maybe not. Was I selling balloons? No. I was selling the results. I listened to my client’s needs and addressed them in terms they understand and valued.
For example, “You mentioned you have employees from three branches outside of the city who don’t know each other. I will make sure they feel like they are part of the event. Who are some of the shy people attending? Tell me about them? What are their hobbies? Is there an inside joke I that can help me connect with your employees? Who are the fun people of the group? I will have them energize the crowd, while I can invite the more timid folks to get involved. What will success look like in terms of this event? What do you want people to say during the event? After the event? “
These are basic questions and answers I would run through with them. Notice, I do not talk about balloons. Do you hear more questions than answers? Yes. It’s important to listen and accommodate, once you know their goals. I could have entered the meetings saying,”I am a strolling balloon entertainer making the best balloons you will ever see. People request whatever they want and I make it.” Would this be a short conversation? Yes. Would I have a chance to build rapport? No. Would I know their audience? No. Would I know what they value? No. This can work, but does not build you as a professional. You are perceived as a commodity.
If you don’t know your audience, how can you speak their language and relate with them? You can’t. They won’t be able to relate to you, either. Until you connect with them, you are merely a faceless line item. If you look at the Certified Meeting Professional Curriculum, you will find entertainment as a tiny line item out of the 77 major aspects. You will be lumped in with everyone else. If you want to be special and different, you have to put in the time. An average entertainer will not do this, but the high end ones will. Which one are you? You could get big Returns On Image.