It is heart to speak up

J.C does not own a car. “I don’t need it since I don’t travel much,” he clarified.

He does not have a business card. “Let’s not kill more trees,” he said.

J.C’s phone hardly rings. “We keep in touch on FB and BBM most of the time to convey our intentions,” he reasoned.

He has not met 50% of his clients. “There is no need to, as we communicate via emails and if necessary through the mobile phone,” he explained.

ImageYet he makes more money per annum than most of Kuala Lumpur’s tie-wearing, traffic congestion-hopping office executives, and his sales figures would put many established entrepreneurs to shame.

Sounds like a dream career for many of us; making money by not having to manoeuvre through traffic hassles or having to go through the daily nine to five grind; and ringing up the sales without having to leave the comfort of your house.

J.C and his two business partners operate a business offering an online server hosting services. The nearly 4-year-old company raked in more than 200% growth in the last quarter over its Q1 performance this year, and is poised to meet the million Ringgit mark by the end of 2012. Not bad for a home-based set-up with no office rental and car financing to worry over!  

Yet there he stood in the middle of the hall looking forlorn and visibly uncomfortable with his surroundings. After a weak handshake, a forced smile, a slight nod of the head and a handful of “Yes” and “No” responses, I was happy to see the back of the 30-year-old entrepreneur. The chocolate cookies nearby seemed more alive than he was!

Several hours after the brand conference ended, we bumped into each other again and this time I started off the conversation with football as the subject matter. He finally came to life! The next 20 minutes I learned all those things about him, and he confessed that he was struggling to improve his communication and networking skills.

“Initially, I thought that it was ok not to need to speak with people or to present myself in public seeing that our business was operating well without the need for us to be “seen”,” said the software engineering graduate.

He added, “However, as the business grew, we now find ourselves having to deal with bankers, investors, and large corporate clients. And these people always demand to see us in person!”

J.C is not alone. At the same conference, I met Shah who is an entrepreneur that prefers to kill demons and slay dragons on a 40-inch TV screen than go on his networking rounds. Like J.C, Shah, who runs an IT company offering internet-based database marketing services, becomes a complete wreck when asked to communicate with the public.

He tried attending a toastmasters club, only to leave him more disheartened with his comparatively poor speaking abilities. “I believe that not everyone is cut out for public speaking. I am definitely one of those!” declared Shah.

Yet like J.C, he knows that he will be required to raise his confidence level and communication skills as his business grows. There are more people to meet, customers to negotiate and staffs to motivate.  

Before we parted ways, Shah asked how I became a confident and well-expressed speaker.

“Because I always speak from the heart and at all times believe what I am saying,” I replied.

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