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Listen up, pay attention and be aware


“Pay attention!”

Ever hear those words when you were growing up? Hundreds of times, right? And you probably thought you were being scolded. Actually, you were getting one of life’s most valuable lessons.

Now you’re grown up, and I bet you still haven’t learned that lesson. Why? Because you’re probably more focused on yourself than on the world around you. And when you’re focused on yourself, you’re diverting your “focus energy” away from your success.

Now, people will tell you to focus or to be more focused, but very few will tell you how to focus. Let me share this little secret with you. The easiest way to be focused is to be aware. Be aware of what is around you and be aware of who is around you. It sounds simple, but it means you have to change from being selfish and insecure to being open-minded and self-confident. Let me explain.

“Antennas up” at all times is what my mentor and friend Earl Pertnoy has preached for more than 25 years. It doesn’t matter where you are. You could be in a bathroom, in line at the airport, in a hotel lobby, at a car wash, in an elevator or at a restaurant. All those places are ripe for making connections if you’re alert. And if you follow Earl’s advice as I do, you’ll get the sales lead or the deal you were never expecting.

The “antennas up” philosophy starts with being aware of your immediate surroundings. If you’re looking to be a master seller, you must understand and capitalize on where you are, whom you meet and what you say.

If you’re at an event, your job is to keep your antennas up until you meet the key players. Do whatever it takes. You may have to ask someone who the players are. You may have to read every name tag in the room. You may have to stay until you’re the only person left. You may even have to stand and wait until the conversation the big cheese is having with someone else is finished.

But if your antennas are in a bottle of beer or with your friends or looking for more food, they’re pointed in the wrong direction. You’ll lose to someone whose antennas are pointed in the right direction.

Here’s a true story that makes a good point:

After getting off the plane at LaGuardia, I had to use the bathroom. Now, when you visit the men’s room, there’s an unwritten rule that you don’t talk. I glanced to my left and saw the actor Hal Linden, who played Barney Miller on the TV series, and said as we stood over our urinals, “The great equalizer of men.” Linden started to howl and almost wet his suede shoes.

I said, “Goin’ into the city?”

He said, “Yep.”

I said, “Wanna split a cab?”

He said, “Sure.”

We drove into the city through the Astoria section of Queens where Archie Bunker lived. It was a great ride, and when we got to the city, he paid the cab fare.

Guess what? My antennas were up. I had the guts to make the exchange and I won. Did I win big? No, but I had fun. In the game of antennas up, it’s not always about winning big. It’s about having a good time and it’s about practice.

Here’s another story. Recently, I was flying from Buffalo to Dallas. I was sitting next to Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly. We chatted a bit, but I certainly didn’t want to mention the words Super Bowl. I told him I was an author and a speaker, and that I had been on the same program with him at a couple of events, and that I had a couple of his autographed footballs. He smiled.

Then I said, “As a noted speaker and author, you probably want my autograph.” I autographed my boarding card and handed it to him.

As he sat there dumbfounded, I said, “I wouldn’t mind if you autographed your boarding pass and gave it to me.” He laughed, autographed his boarding pass, and handed back both his boarding pass and mine. Because my antennas were up, I talked to Jim Kelly, got his autograph, and had a lot of fun.  

It’s important for you to understand that selling yourself is not about tactics or technique. It’s about focusing on and engaging someone in a creative way. The only way to master focus is to keep your antennas up.

Free GitBit: Send me your “antennas up” story. Go to www.gitomer.com. Click “Sales Help,” then “Jeffrey Needs Your Help,” then “Your Sales Idea.”

President of Charlotte, N.C.-based Buy Gitomer, Jeffrey Gitomer gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or by e-mail at salesman@gitomer.com.  

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