It was a warm afternoon of May 2015 when I learn one of the best things I use work. It is practical for anyone doing business development, sales, startups or freelancing. In the new economy, it is almost anyone.
It was a freelancer meetup at one of the coworking spaces here in Prague. John Niland, author of “Courage to ask” was the speaker. He showed us how to encourage other people to bring us business and opportunities. I was sure it is working from the first moment: I got a consulting job during the workshop from one of the other participants.
How Google optimization works
Let me explain how search engine optimization (SEO) works in a simple way. If you want people to come to your website, you have to have something they want. Sure thing, but this is not enough. You also need to know what keywords people type into Google while looking for what you offer. Then, you use these words across your website. This will make your website easier to find.
How your job works
- A graphic designer, lawyer or a real estate agent needs clients
- An early stage startup founder need investors, partners
- A sales person needs leads
If you read is blog, chances are high that you are in the same position as in the examples above. I am a startup CEO, looking for new partners, clients and team members. I am also a freelance management consultant, but I do this much less now as developing eHotel.cz is a clear priority.
The power of word-of-mouth
You will probably also agree on this: Word-of-mouth is the best way how to get new clients or opportunities. The key thing I learn was: “If you want people to recommend you, they need to understand clearly what you do. You need to teach them your keywords.”
In my case, it goes like that:
Person A: “I run a hotel, but I need more guests.”
Person B: “Hey, I know Jiri, he does something with hotels. I am sure he can help. This is his contact”
Person A: “I would like to start or join a tech startup company.”
Person B: “Hey, I know Jiri, he does something with startups. I am sure he can help.”
My keywords are “startup” and “hotels” for eHotel.cz. I also have “lean”, “factories” or “excel” for my freelance business.
What I learned about personal keywords
1) It is important to keep them easy
The easier to understand it is, the more people will recommend you. When my friends and colleagues asked me what I do as a consultant, I used to stay: “I optimize core processes across industries to maximize customer value.” Now I know that this is nonsense. Very few people can imagine anything under this, so obviously they cannot recommend me. So I made a change. I told people “I fix factories”. People at least remember that I do something with factories and they got to me much more often.
2) It is good to keep it narrow
This is how it works with Google: Lot of people search for words like “graphic design” or “lawyer”. There is also high competition and it is very hard to appear first. The same works real life. People in marketing business know a lot of graphic designers. It is hard to “come up first” when they recommend someone, unless you are a superstar. It is better to think of a narrower, “long-tail” personal keyword, like “wedding graphic designer” or “real estate lawyer.”
The right question
See the difference between these two questions:
- “I work as a real estate agent. Do you need help with real estate?”
- “I work as a real estate agent. Who do you know that needs help with real estate?”
It is obvious that the second question is so much powerful than the first one. I know that if you want something from someone, you got to ask them directly. If you want people to recommend you, you have to teach them your keywords and then ask for recommendation directly.
This is how you appear first in real life Google. If you want something, ask the people and they will help you. Thanks for reading and enjoy your day!