You are on your way to a conference to enjoy a few days of networking and training. You are excited to be away from the office for a few days to soak in new ideas and find inspiration to keep doing your job. You get checked into the hotel and start making some new friends.
Your cell phone buzzes. You ignore it.
It dings and buzzes again. You keep trying to ignore it.
Finally, you take a moment to check your phone and discover an email notification of an RFP your boss wants you to look at. You see a text from your boss asking if you got her email. As you open the email you get a phone call. It's your boss wondering why you haven't answered your email or text.
You explain that you were just reading the email when she called. She frantically explains the proposal is due in 5 days. We have to respond to this. Can you work on it at your conference?
You are deflated. You realize every spare moment you have will be spent putting together a rushed proposal. No networking. No extra time discussing marketing issues with colleagues. No downtime to just enjoy being out of the office.
Why can't I say, "No?"
Many A/E/C marketers ask themselves this question regularly. We get unreasonable requests that ignore who we are and what we were hired to do. So why can't we say "No" when it would be perfectly appropriate to say "No?"
There are several reasons why most A/E/C marketers cannot say, "No."
Back to the opening scenario. The boss says you have 5 days to respond to the urgent RFP. Rather than shriveling up into a ball of nerves and anger, resentfully saying, "yes," you can do the following.
Learn how to say, "No!" Saying "No" effectively means a lot of groundwork has been laid before having to say, "No." At the end of the day, it is your responsibility, A/E/C marketer, to lead your company in marketing excellence.
Leaders are taught, not born.
Leaders are learners, not naturally talented.
Leaders learn from failure, not always successful.
To be a good leader, one must want to lead and put in the necessary work. Ford Harding, the author of the bestselling book, Rain Making: Attract New Clients No Matter What Your Field, says he discovered several commonalities in all-star business leaders.
There is a verse in the Bible that says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). While there is a spiritual context for this truth, I believe the truth of power coming from weakness is also wisdom for our lives. It is true, that God has a knack for doing big things, grand things, in very small packages, even weak objects. Jesus fed thousands from one boy’s sack lunch. So, what does this have to do with marketing professional services?
I have heard many technical professionals in the engineering profession simply dismiss themselves from being good at marketing and business development. This is because most technical professionals see themselves as weak in the primary skills of good marketing. They see marketing as requiring soft skills they do not have. Sometimes, it may be that they are good at it, but simply do not enjoy it. Time spent flattering clients, schmoozing at a networking event, or entertaining on the golf course is not how they wish to spend their time. Therefore, they simply chalk it up to weakness and excuse themselves from marketing.
But the wisdom of Scripture and promise of God is to demonstrate His power, specifically in your weaknesses. The very skills and personality traits you dismiss as weak, and, consequently, never exercise, are the very weaknesses in which God wishes to demonstrate power. For example, by personality and nature, I am not well-organized. I tend to be forgetful and distracted. However, many years ago, I committed to doing better and submitted this weakness to God asking for help and practicing better organization skills. Now, God has demonstrated His power in me, making me well-organized. I encourage you to exercise skills that are naturally weak in you. Ask God for help. His power can be made perfect in your weakness.
Another way of examining this same truth is to think of every weakness as a two-sided coin. It is not unusual for people to discover that some of their greatest weaknesses are actually great strengths in disguise. One of my other weaknesses (other than being naturally disorganized), is to jump in to make recommendations or suggestions when I should just be quiet and listen. This is obnoxious and tends to shut others down who take more time to think things through before speaking up. While I have worked on this weakness and tried to keep my mouth shut in a group and let others speak first, there are situations when speaking up early is helpful to the group leader. Because I am comfortable speaking up, I try to recognize each situation and behave in a manner that is best for the group.
Gabe Lett, FSMPS, CPSM, LPC