Where did she come from the small person, who looked no more than ten years old shot passed me as I stood nervously at the top of my first run of the weekend? I then adjusted my goggles, tightened my chin strap and slid off over the crest onto the piste. Muscle memory kicked in as I was able to string a series of turns together to catch up with my group who had effortlessly made it down.
I learned to ski when I was in my 20's and since then on and off for the last 20 years been coming for the odd weekend. On those first trips, most of the time on the slopes was with the instructor, who gradually educated his group to a level where they could manage to ski independently. Latterly though I stopped having the lessons, and explains why I've never really progressed any further.
Seeing the kids shoot down the slopes, and comparing that to my ability made me reflects on what it takes to be a top performer, expert, or guru in your chosen field. We've all heard about the 10,000 hours rule made famous by Malcolm Gladwell but was a gross oversimplification of research conducted by Anders Ericsson in his book Peak.
Sales like skiing is a technical discipline, that requires hours of experience to become a master. It's easy to schuss down the blue run all weekend, but are you ever really getting any better? So like my skiing, which I acknowledge is stuck in mediocracy, there is no reason why sales skills can't be improved day after day so that you don't get left behind on the slopes.
There are many facets to selling. The most relevant for today is social selling, and within that, there are many aspects to learn and develop skills. Like the worst mogul filled black run on the mountain, where do we start, it's steep, it's technical, and perhaps importantly, we don't want to crash and embarrass ourselves.
Ericsson, suggests the fundamental truth about any sort of practice that if you never push yourself beyond your comfort zone, you will never improve. Writing an article on Linkedin is a great way for you to demonstrate your expertise, unique thinking, and ultimately build a personal brand. It is challenging to start though, what do I write? Where do I start?
Again Ericsson can help us out. He says putting together a series of baby steps to reach the longer term goal. So in this context, our baby steps could be adding pithy comments to posts from a work colleague. They will thank you for it as it will help disseminate their content through your network.
My recommendation to would be to do this daily, widening the span of your comments across your whole network. I suggest also letting a close circle of contacts know that you are about to embark on your goal to write blogs. It would be best if you asked them to provide you with meaningful feedback on your posts as this is one of the crucial factors in maintaining the consistent effort needed to improve through purposeful practice.
With confidence built on commenting on Linkedin, it's time to move to the red run and compose your article. My suggestion is to subscribe to industry newsfeeds that have relevant contents for your audience. Find a white paper, and summarise it for your audience highlighting the key areas:
What's your view?
Why is it important?
What 's the potential impact on your clients' organisation?
Finally, an aspect of purposeful practice is to monitor progress. Linkedin is a perfect platform for providing feedback on progress. Within your profile page, it keeps a record of the number of articles, posts, and likes, which is an excellent way to help with motivation. Over time you may see your social selling index increase or the number of times people have viewed your profile.
After my last ski trip, I'm not going to be happy with the same experience next year, over the next 12 months, I am going to set out doing something about it, so when it comes to standing over the edge of the black run, I'll be ready to go with more confidence.
If you are looking for inspiration for content, then take a look at https://www.social-experts.net/blog/ and help yourself.
Hopefully, it will inspire you for that blog.
So here we have purposeful practice in a nutshell: Get outside your comfort zone but do it in a focused way, with clear goals, a plan for reaching those goals, and a way to monitor your progress. Oh, and figure out a way to maintain your motivation.