In a perfect world, we’d all walk around spewing out clever little sound bites about our businesses.
In a perfect world, we’re also wearing flawless makeup and our thighs are the body part we’re most happy with.
Talking about your business has been so badly represented over the years that it has a generation of business owners suffering from performance anxiety each time someone asks them what they do for a living.
Here’s an overblown example but you’ll get the gist. It takes place at a networking event or some business mixer where folks are connecting.
Person A: “So, what do you do?”
Person B: “Hi I’m So and So and I can take your business from zero and suffocating to a zillion and thriving following my simple 8 steps that I’ve branded into a signature system and intellectual property and amazing success… oh wait, I mean… Hi I’m So and So and… hold on… Hi I’m So and So… oh, excuse me please I think I’m going to be sick!”
This is the failure (yet again) of the classic “Elevator Speech” or “Elevator Pitch”. In essence, it’s a snappy little 30 second spiel that tells people who you are. Rarely does it gain you fans.
In normal human interactions, we just don’t do things that way.
- We talk to each other.
- We go back and forth.
- We connect.
- We find commonalities.
- We listen.
- We don’t broadcast.
This has been a beef of mine ever since my first networking event when a wild eyed business owner locked her gaze onto me like a tractor beam on the Starship Enterprise. On the receiving end, I suddenly feel claustrophobic. The fight or flight reflex goes into full swing.
And trust me, I’ve been on the “giving” end of this too because I was told that “this is the way we do things”. And you know how I felt? Like I was reciting and I was going to make a mistake. Or that I was such an obnoxious fake, as soon as I got through my spiel I’d high tail it out of the room and never go back again.
REALITY CHECK TIME:
We didn’t go into business to hate talking about our businesses. We went into business for freedom, flexibility, unlimited income potential, a way to impact the world around us while making money and achieving financial success. The classic “30 Second Elevator Speech” in my humble opinion, is everything but freedom. It’s a structure that nobody likes and everyone dreads.
So how do you talk about your business?
The first key is this: the most effective way to talk about your business is in a natural conversation. It’s not a broadcast.
1. Develop your listening and asking skills. Post this acronym in your mind: WAIT. It stands for “Why Am I Talking?”
2. If you’re asking someone about their business or someone is asking you about your business, don’t try to get it all out in a single sentence. Chunk it down. Ask someone who their ideal client is. Let them answer. Share with them who your ideal client is. Then ask how long they’ve been in business. Let them answer. Then share how long you’ve been in business. Ask if they’re online and if so, how can you find them? Listen and let them answer. There’s a pattern here. You’re actually giving each other the chance to get it all out there, not doing a recitation face off. (And yes, I just heard that sigh of relief you let out)
3. Let YOU and your personality into the picture. Not everyone wants to stay solely focused on business. You might discover a common love of all things Tom Cruise. (I dedicate that example to my 80 year old mother, btw). Think of those common bonds we humans love to connect on: parenthood, hobbies, family, relationship status, sports, pop culture, entertainment. It loosens things up and takes the pressure off of giving “speeches” and “pitches”.
I call this the FASCINATION CONVERSATION. It’s how great communicators and networkers connect with others. It’s authentic, natural, and doesn’t require you to memorize anything. If you know your own name, what you do, who you work with, and the results people get from working with you, then you can weave that into any conversation without it sounding canned or fake.
Take this tip and use it in your own business. Get out there and talk to other business owners. Ask questions then share. Ask questions, then share.
Remember: Elevators are cramped and smelly. Why take your business on one?
Go for the Fascination Conversation and you’ll discover a newfound grace and ease when communicating about what you do while you build your network.
I’d love your thoughts on this. Actually I’d really like it if you’d try this and told me how it went for you! What excites you most about this approach?
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