Rubrics are everywhere and a big thing in the academic world. Examples of rubrics outside of the classroom might include phone scripts, elevator speeches, phrases you use for every “fact find” you conduct at a sales meeting, overcoming objections, and any other “one size fits all” approach you’re expected to practice and often memorize as a sales leader.
Although standards like rubrics are important, if you don’t connect with your audience in a sales meeting, business networking event, job interview, or speaking engagement, all the rubrics (outside of the world of academe that is) won’t amount to very much. Success outside of the classroom comes down to the connections you make.
And here are some ways to make them:
Begin with a Compelling Story
Everyone has a story to tell, so tell yours. Why did you get involved in your profession? Why do you help people? How did someone benefit from your help? How did you overcome a challenge? Stories can be very captivating. And a good story is an excellent way to connect with your audience – someone you meet at an event, a prospect, client, or interviewer. Have stories prepared and get good at telling them – the less wordy the better. In fact, stories are a great way to kick off a presentation!
What questions would you want someone to ask you? Write them down. Now practice asking those questions of others. What brings you to this event? What type of work do you do? How did you get involved in your line of work? Who are great referral partners for you? And other questions that are interesting to ask. Asking great questions is an effective way of learning more about those you meet but also sets the tone for the conversation. Often enough, when you’re asking questions, the follow up afterward becomes, “How about yourself?”
Listen, Listen, and Then Listen More
Learn to restate and reflect on the points that people make and how their experiences made them feel. (I discussed this in a recent 3 Minute Round). If you can truly listen to others and actively capture what they’re saying and why they’re saying it, they will often extend the gift of listening right back to you.
Give Specific Examples
Offer examples about how you get hired, what problems you solve, how you meet prospects, and how you work best with referral partners. Sometimes these examples take the form of stories you might share. “Here’s an example of how I partner with other CPA’s.” Examples and stories are always much more engaging than talking about how good you are, smart you are, and successful you are.
Close with a Bang
For speeches and presentations, I always suggest closing with a bang – story, quote, call to action, summary, request, or favorite magic trick (well, depending on the audience). If you’re not giving a formal presentation, your bang up close might be a request for a next step whether it be for a meeting, scheduling your next phone conversation, or a promise you hopefully intend to keep. Leave your audience (whether a party of one or more) with a good impression so you can open with a bang upon the next meeting.
Checking the boxes on a rubric might be important if you’re in a contest, following a specific set of rules, or scoring at home.
But in the real world, it is and will always be about the connection.