You're Not Approachable Enough. Let's Fix That.
I won’t name names, but there’s someone missing from this issue of Entrepreneur. I’d found a piece they’d written, liked their work, and planned to assign them a story for the magazine … but I couldn’t find their email address online. They have no website. Their social media channels offer no way to get in touch. So I moved along to someone else instead.
Why’d I give up so fast? Because the way I see it, that person’s job is to make themselves easy to work with. And I’m not going to spend my time doing someone else’s job for them.
I hope this little story strikes fear into the hearts of many. Consider it: Right now, as you read this column, someone out there might be thinking about hiring you, partnering with you, or consulting with you. But maybe they can’t because they don’t know how to get in touch, or because they want to learn more about your work but can’t, or because they just can’t tell if you’re trustworthy. And so they, like me, might move along as well.
I’ve run into this problem so many times. Writers -- which is to say, the vendors I use most in my business -- often put no effort into self-promotion. And this problem goes far beyond my own industry. I posted about my frustration on LinkedIn and heard the same complaint from people in vastly different fields. A woman at American Whiskey magazine said she struggles to contact craft distilleries: “They’re so focused on making spirits that they don’t think about getting their names out there.” Another person said it happens often with web designers; they build websites for everyone but themselves! That puts them in good company, because according to one count, only a dismal 4 percent of people have personal sites.
I don’t mean to make this an advertisement for websites, though. It’s about something much bigger. It’s about mindset. If you’re not thinking about something as simple as whether people can find your email address, then you’re probably not thinking granularly enough about your entire operation. Business is about building bridges, but in ways large and small, we often forget to build the bridges to ourselves. We’re so busy chasing people that we forget to also attract them. And in doing so, we overlook some of the smallest, simplest, and ultimately most critical ways to increase our chances of success.
We’ve all been guilty of this, even here at Entrepreneur. Not long ago, for example, we created a service called Ask an Expert, where entrepreneurs can book one-on-one video consultations with a range of experts. (I’m on there, by the way! Visit entrepreneur.com/expert.) We thought our site did a good job of selling the service--but then one of our experts, digital marketing whiz Terry Rice, noticed that we’d included no testimonials. We’d created a personalized service but quoted zero people who experienced and vouched for it! What an oversight. We fixed it right away. Then, once our eyes had been opened to our site’s shortcomings, we fixed a whole bunch of other problems as well.
I’ve learned that no matter how valuable you think you are, there’s always another way to become more valuable. And here’s the simplest way I’ve found to achieve that. Step back and ask yourself, What else would convince someone to work with me? The most important word there is else. You’re already doing something, of course. But you could do more. I guarantee you could do more. So what small detail would put someone at ease? What tiny gesture would make their journey easier? What little thing sets you apart?
I’ll suggest a first step: If your email address isn’t easy to find, fix that. Now, what else?