The Maraia Minutes


Staying Up(beat) in a Down Market

Volume 12, Issue 1

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that most of the people in your network, including your most desirable clients and prospects, may be gripped with fear and uncertainty these days. It's also likely that YOU have experienced fear and the grip of uncertainty. What does that have to do with rainmaking? The cold hard reality is it's almost impossible to start or deepen a relationship with someone if YOU or THEY are gripped by fear.

What should you do? First, give yourself permission to be fearful, just DON'T WALLOW IN IT! The problem isn't the fear, or the circumstance causing the fear; it's your reaction to the fear that is draining your energy. Our human tendency when we feel fear is to react against it. In other words, we try to do something to make it go away. Doing that will actually FEED THE FEAR and make it grow stronger!!! If you're fearful or heavily stressed, try releasing the negative emotion. In my own life experience, I've discovered that most people are trying to CONTROL or MANAGE their fear rather than release it. It never occurs to most of us that we can release it completely.

My own path of self-discovery has led me to a rather startling conclusion: Staying in fear is a choice!! As such, I remind my clients that they are completely at choice about how they will respond to the event, person or situation that triggers their fear. This is all done at the thought level. No one has to know you are doing it. Some see the profundity of this truth more quickly than others, but most eventually get it.

You might be asking yourself: How do I stop from getting fearful? The answer is: "You don't!!" I tell my clients it is perfectly natural to experience fear. Just be very aware of your tendency to justify it!! Most people find fear (and other negative emotions like anger or intense rage) to be very unpleasant and are highly motivated to get rid of it.

For more detail on how to release the fear, please see my February 2008 newsletter,Releasing Negative Emotion. If self-help doesn't resonate, seek out a friend or colleague who you can trust to keep an even demeanor or cool head and ask them for their perspective. Ask them for another way of looking at the situation. Once you have moved past your state of panic, gotten out of the emotional state and gotten into the cognitive state, then you will be more effective in releasing your fear and building relationships. Try it and let me know how it works.

Another way to stay "up" is to channel the fear into something constructive. Let's say your practice has come to a grinding halt because of the current marketplace dynamics. The work in your area just isn't there. Fear is inevitable. The natural tendency for most of us is to hibernate in our office and wait for the phone to ring. That inactivity will likely make our fear worse! A better course of action is to start calling more clients, prospects, and contacts with the mindset that YOU want to help THEM. There may very well be a voice in your head screaming: "Help them! What about me?!?" If that raucous voice comes to mind, just notice it and keep dialing the number.

Last fall I called one of my former clients who's an extremely talented real estate lawyer in California to see if he had experienced a slowdown. This is someone who is ALWAYS very busy. As I suspected, the slowdown had affected his practice and he wasn't doing very much to reach out. This particular lawyer has a very good business mind, so I challenged him to start calling on all his clients and contacts and to look for opportunities to give away his insightful business advice. My rationale for this is as follows: Most of his competitors are probably NOT doing this, because it's counterintuitive. From where the client or contact sits, my client's efforts will stand out in a very positive way from the others who are simply looking for more work. When things start to pick up, he will GAIN market share. He reported to me that he had started doing this with his contacts and found out how his clients are weathering the downturn and had great fun in the process.

If a person you call is heavily stressed or fearful, try to provide him or her with some perspective. Gently remind your clients and contacts that, no matter how bad things might get the slowdown won't last forever. Staying upbeat in this market is an inner growth opportunity for you. If you meet the growth challenge on the inside, I'm confident you will see growth in your practice.

Copyright 2009 Mark M. Maraia Associates