THE BLOG
08/11/2014 06:01 pm ET | Updated Oct 09, 2014

You Can't Buy Confidence, So Learn to Create it

Whether you identify as the founder of a startup, an entrepreneur, solopreneur or salesperson -- we all require a common trait for success, which is confidence.

Unfortunately, you can't go into a store and buy it or order some online. Confidence comes from within and it's the secret sauce that people recognize in others, yet may describe in different ways. Someone can have an "air of success," or they're "full of life." They can be described as "having great energy," "electrifying," "charismatic" or "engaging." You may feel a "connection" while speaking with them. Note that "energy, electrifying and connection" are all words that literally convey power.

People want to do business with people who have these characteristics. If you're focused on connecting and networking in order to increase your sphere of influence and income, listen up. There are many components to success and although few people embrace "selling" -- we at least need to sell ourselves, if not the product or service we offer.

As I watch "pitch nights" with founders talking about their new platform, app or service -- searching for investors to give them the capital to grow, it can be a painful event.

The same thing happens when I attend networking events and people are given 1 to 5 minutes to speak and they mumble, stumble and fumble their way through, as if they're being asked a surprise question on an unknown subject. Painful.

If you think this doesn't apply to you, take this simple test. Video yourself on your smartphone for five minutes, speaking about your product or service -- then play it back. If you can watch the entire recording and feel you "nailed it" -- congratulations, this article is not for you. Otherwise, read on.

For over 30 years, I've had the privilege of helping people identify solutions to their problems, without ever "selling" them anything -- but I am a salesman. I've said it before, "Nobody wants to be sold. Everyone wants to buy something and is truly excited when they do." You'd never say, "Look what someone sold me!" but you most likely have said, "Look what I just bought!"

Being in sales for so long, my habits are second nature. In reality, I was taught what to do -- with authenticity -- rather than being covert and manipulative. My execution has a step-by-step process but it's invisible to the participants. The process gives me the confidence to know that I can create a duplicatable and repeatable business (consistent income.) It also means that I'm less dependent on being "on my game" or having the right mindset when I need to perform.

That's an interesting word to use, "perform." In my last article, I talked about thinking like an actor and treating networking events like improvisation and not following a script. The spontaneity I was referring to does not apply when you're trying to earn business from someone else.

If you are in business development, customer outreach or sales -- you must have a process. You cannot wing it -- there is no consistency and your results will be haphazard at best. The process needs to address your internal mindset with an active procedure to follow. You also need to create an external persona that is appealing and engaging.

If you can recognize these as challenges you're faced with and want to overcome them, I have a two-part solution that will help. The results will give you an inner and outer sense of confidence that will exude from your pores, from the moment you enter a room, preparing you for any situation.

For entrepreneurs, many people confuse their formal business education and Ivy League credentials as sales training. Combine this with their passion and ego and you've got a complete recipe for failure -- at a rate of 90 percent within the first five years for startups.

If you could get an MBA in sales, it might be the most powerful tool in your arsenal of success for inner confidence. Dave Fischer addresses some of the different ways to increase your skills in understanding and identifying the needs of your audience, for consistent and successful results. Through Dave's teaching, you actively engage in changing from a lucky sale to a happy customer with no buyer's remorse. Imagine elevating someone from "customer" to being a "raving fan." Couldn't that start the virality that every product and company looks for?

Once you've customized your internal process, now you want to create a persona to deliver the information that will result in new business. If I ask you who your favorite actor or actress is, why would you name that person? Most likely because of one or all of the descriptions I used above.

Either you want to be "like them" or "with them" and you do that by watching or buying more of their movies, TV shows or plays. This increases their star power and their future salaries. The same thing applies to you.

The ability to have presence in a room, to command and own the audience, to be confident in your voice and physicality can be taught. Communication coaches like Stacee Mandeville will take you from interactions that are "hit or miss" to being a powerhouse because you know what to say, how to deliver your words and use your body language in order to connect with your audience -- whether it's one person or a thousand.

Having confidence is multi-layered and attainable. The best part is that it's accessible to you and now you know how to achieve it. The next time you see someone who is compelling and draws you in, take a step back and think about what you're experiencing. They are no different than you, they've just honed the skills necessary for the show that you're watching. What are you waiting for? Your success depends on it.