As published in Scotsman Guide's Residential Edition, August 2006.
If you're like me, you've probably heard that perception is reality. And you've heard it enough to know that the manner in which you're perceived really does affect the level of communication you have with other people. This is especially true when you're networking and meeting prospects.
Whether you're meeting an agent, a prospect or a potential referral partner, how you come across will play a huge role in the amount of business you receive. Understanding and following the "12-by-12-by-12 rule" can help you come out smelling like a rose.
Simply put, the 12-by-12-by-12 rule asks three questions:
How do you look from 12 feet away? Do you look the part?
How do you look from 12 inches away? Are you as good up close as you were from afar?
What are the first 12 words out of your mouth?
It is important to create the "right" perception of yourself and of your business. Although all originators have a lot going on, and many are overwhelmed, prospects don't care. They just want to know if your service can help them finance their home.
For example, imagine that you are a prospect and you see an originator at a networking event looking scattered and disorganized. You'll likely be less inclined to work with that individual -- especially if someone else at the event appears to have it together.
This is precisely what the 12-by-12-by-12 rule is about. It looks at you from your prospects' perspective and enables you to manage that perception.
There are a few ways you can do this when meeting people at a local networking event.
Look the part: If it's a networking breakfast with the chamber of commerce, for example, dress up a little bit. In addition, if you're not a morning person, go to bed a little earlier the night before so you don't look like a zombie.
Size up your body language: Did you know that 92 percent of all focused, one-on-one communication is nonverbal? And guess what networking is all about: focused one-on-one communication.
When engaging in a conversation, make sure to look people directly in the eyes and stay focused on what they're saying. Try not to cross your arms too much, and make sure you know where your business cards are. Nothing screams "I'm a scatterbrain" more than handing a prospect someone else's card.
Above all else: smile. Studies have shown that by simply smiling when talking to other people, they perceive you as being more open and forthright.
Have the first 12 words roll out of your mouth: When someone asks what you do, make sure you have a response that packs a punch. Research has shown that the attention span of the average adult is 20 seconds, which means that a long, drawn-out answer for why you got into the business isn't going to do it.
Ideally, you want to have a unique selling proposition that tells people what you do quickly and easily. Do it with your first 12 words. When someone asks, "What do you do?" have a snappy response that gets people interested in your business.
Hint: It's not, "My name is Jim Smith, and I'm a mortgage broker."
Remember: As a mortgage professional, you're facilitating the transaction of the largest personal asset most people have. How prospects perceive you -- especially during that first interaction -- will determine if you're going to get their business. And with the 12-by-12-by-12 rule you'll come across as a sharp loan originator from the moment prospects lay eyes on you.
popular speaker and author of the book Networking Like a Pro, Brian Hilliard is recognized as the leading authority in showing originators how to get more business from everyone they meet. For more information, please visit www.agitoconsulting.com or call (404) 434-2826.