TELL YOUR MARKET-PLACE WHAT YOU DO!
by: Linda Brakeall
My professional motto has always been: "Communication is the name of the game". I have always truly believed that people who communicate clearly have a decided advantage. It seems that suddenly everyone else is buying into that theory too.
What do you think when you hear that Mr. X or Ms. Z is the guest speaker at the local Chamber of Commerce meeting? Do you automatically assume that she or he must be some kind of an expert, must know the business, or at the very least be well known to important people at the Chamber?
Have you ever been a program chairman of any organization? Did you always get well known, certified experts?
These are two sides of the same coin! People who have the chutzpah to offer to speak at any kind of meeting are perceived as experts. We all know that they all aren't. What does that have to do with you, Loan Officer?
There is no better, more economical way to make yourself well known to large groups of people than to start speaking at local organization's meetings.
What would you speak about? About 20 minutes! Sorry. old cheap joke. But it got to be old because it's true. You only need to have about 20 minutes worth of information to convey in a user-friendly manner.
You need to talk about something that is of interest to your audience. Examples: Should You Refinance Again? Aren't people still asking you that question? Then some people want to hear about it! You could cover break even points, how to figure costs and trends in the marketplace.
When Are Adjustable Rate Mortgages the Best Choice? There are certain times when adjustables are absolutely the best bet in town. And for certain people the adjustable is the perfect choice. Create a work sheet or a chart to illustrate break even point of an adjustable versus a fixed. Create a questionnaire that helps people decide if the adjustable is a good vehicle. Get testimonials from people who have them and love them. (I have three! All with rates under 8% and I didn't have to refinance when the rates went down!)
Talk about "New Mortgage Trends and Products". People want to know about Shared Appreciation Mortgages, Reverse Mortgages, Community Home Loan Programs and the Two Generation Mortgage that is used in Japan. They want to know what they government is thinking about home interest deductions and second homes. Are any companies creating any really new mortgage products that it will make it possible for the X Generation to actually buy a home without inherited wealth?
Why the Mortgage Process of today is Personally Responsible for the Death of 32,746 Trees . That's kind of a long title and I have absolutely no basis for the number of trees but there must be reasons why more documentation is now required than has ever been required before. Why are we using more paper in this day of computers? What is the local foreclosure rate? How does that stack up against the national foreclosure rate? What is the underwriter looking for? Is there an easier way to get through the process? What can the consumer do ahead of time to make the process easier?
You now have a minimum of four possible subjects, and several questions:
I. How do I develop a talk?
II. How do I find a place to give it?
III. What if I faint, throw up or go brain dead in the middle of this "talk"?
I have created a system for developing talks because I not only write my own programs. I also write for other people. It can't be done consistently without a system.
#2. Whenever you think of an idea that has anything at all - even remotely - to do with your talk, write it down on the index cards. One idea per card. Carry blank cards with you everywhere you go. Keep writing till you run dry or run out of time - whichever comes first!
#3. Sort the cards. You'll notice that some are related to others. You'll find that they may sort themselves into three or four major topics.
#5. Read it out loud and rewrite until you feel comfortable with the content and the flow.
#6. Reduce it to an outline.
#7. Practice it out loud until you feel comfortable with the content and the flow.
#8. Rewrite it from the outline. Did you get everything? Miss anything? Rework the outline till it gives you enough cues to include all the things you planned to say.
#9. Practice, drill & rehearse.
#10. See #9. ( *N o t e : Index cards come with a spiral binding and perforated so you can tear them off to sort. A little more expensive than the loose ones but they won't get lost. )
II. How do I find a place to give it?
Start saving your local papers today! Save the section that lists all the clubs and meetings. Tuck them all in a drawer or a folder till you have muddled through most of Number I.
Call the contact person at each clubs or organization that seems likely to be interested in a talk about mortgages or finance. Chambers of Commerce, Kiwannis, Rotary, Jaycees, Lions, Business & Professional Women, any kind of professional association. In other words: Any organization whose members might buy a home, or live in a home and whose title does not include the words "children" or "garden", is a likely candidate.
Ask the Chairperson if they ever use guest speakers. Mention that you understand that they're booked far in advance, but you're local and you have a timely topic. If they ever have a cancellation and you can free up the time, you'd be happy to help them out! That technique won't always get you in the door, but you'd be surprised how often it does work. You might get scheduled for a meeting at a later date.
Put yourself in the Chairman's shoes. A speaker gets sick less than 24 hours before the meeting. What would you do? Isn't that the time that you'd take a chance on an unknown speaker?
You know how cold calling goes. You'll call 10. 5 will be polite. 3 will promise to call if they can use you at a later date and one will be delighted that you called and will schedule you on the spot!
If you're going to offer to speak on short notice, then you have to be ready to do a good job. This isn't a mid-term! You can't stay up all night cramming. The talk has to prepared and polished in advance. You have to practice it periodically so you don't forget. You have to update it as things change. (Keep it on tape to listen to in the car.)
III. What if I faint, throw up or go brain dead, in the middle of this "talk"?
The only way to avoid that is to get some practice in front of other people before you have to do it "for real". There is no shortcut. You have to find a way to speak on a fairly regular basis for awhile till you teach those "butterflies to fly in formation".
Take speech 101 at a local college or Adult Ed class. Volunteer to be a chairman or officer in your club so that you have to give reports frequently and practice speaking. Join Toastmasters. Take a Dale Carnegie course.
Speaking is just like any other skill you've ever worked on. As a novice you may make really silly, stupid, embarrassing mistakes. The more you do it, the better you get. Practice where the mistakes won't cost you business - like Toastmasters, or with other LO's.
A little coaching is a wonderful thing and it certainly hastens the learning curve, but you and I both know that mostly ( in anything) you teach yourself. By trial and error. By observation and correction. By a conscious effort to get better. If you do anything often enough, you'll get better. It's inevitable.
So practice! It doesn't matter where. It really doesn't matter what. But the practice really does matter.
The day finally comes
when you get to speak at the Chamber of Commerce. You walk up to the check
in desk and say: "I'm your speaker for today." People see your
name tag that says: SPEAKER and they all think you are important. They
all think you must be pretty wonderful or you wouldn't be speaking to
this august body. They are all prepared to be impressed. They want you
to do well. Don't disappoint them.
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