When You Network, Stop Trying To Tell The Whole Story
Welcome back to my “How to Talk About What You Do” series. Last week, we introduced the big problem that a lot of people face as entrepreneurs: how to quickly and clearly verbally talk about what they do!
In this 4-part series- I’m aiming to have you working through this challenge and ready to talk about what you do well - whether you get stuck in an elevator or get invited to say what you do in 30 seconds at a referral meeting.
>> Miss Part 1 of the series - "Be Clear About Your Category"? Read it now here.
Last time, we talked about ditching any creative or confusing language and starting with a crystal clear category of what you do.
- I received a ton of replies with clear categories and replied to each one!
- I also got several folks who are struggling with letting go of the creative titles.
And I get it - you don’t want to be pigeonholed or put in a box the way basic labels can feel.
If you’re feeling that way… today’s post might help and show you why I’m starting to believe more and more we’re shooting ourselves in the foot when we have only a few seconds to say what we do and we don’t choose clarity over creativity in our job titles. Hang with me here.
Are you ready for the next step to keep moving? Let’s do it!
In today's story, we'll look at:
HOW MUCH STORY BELONGS IN YOUR SHORT VERBAL BUSINESS INTRODUCTION
Aside from being too creative, I see entrepreneurs getting tripped up on the pressure of communicating their story that they say too much. Let’s talk about the right balance today.
When you talk about what you do, realize that you don’t have to tell the whole story. You only have to tell just enough of the story to get people interested.
One of the things I see happening often with small business owners is that they feel the pressure to communicate ALL the things that set them apart IMMEDIATELY.
The problem with this is that it’s overwhelming - especially to someone who is just meeting you for the first time.
When’s the last time you really had the appropriate amount of time to clearly explain the in’s and out’s of all of the work you do with a new person? It’s rare. Even an hour lunch meeting only gives you 20-30 minutes to talk about what you do. And I’ve known and networked often with other professionals for years and still don’t know everything about their value and their business.
So the key here is to have one clear goal of what you want to communicate when you meet someone, and then LET GO of the rest. You want to pick the gateway pieces - the things that most interest others in the work you do and the value you offer.
As I shared last week, I often introduce myself as a brand creator and speaker. I do this because I have a clear goal of attracting new clients who need brands created for them. I add speaker so I can quickly get on the radar of anyone who is looking for a speaker for a group and so it’s natural for me to invite someone to my next local workshop.
Now, keep in mind - by choosing to say this, I am choosing NOT to communicate all of the following super important elements of my story and the work I do:
- That I do both writing and design
- That I create websites
- That I name businesses
- That I offer creative direction for brand photography and videography
- That I worked for Disney
- That I do private mentoring on entrepreneurship and branding
- And so much more
And here’s the thing to realize: it doesn’t have to.
I just have to get people interested enough that they take a NEXT STEP with me:
- They ask more questions and we set up a discovery call
- They hear about and attend my branding workshop (Branding with Annie)
- We set time to do a virtual coffee date / consider a referral partnership or collaboration
Any one of these things can be transformative. Any one of these things will give this new person more information about me and my story - so I don’t need to worry about saying it all at once. And any one of these things makes me accessible - instead of confusing and overwhelming - upon meeting me.
Here are some examples of next step goals for your short introductions.
Remember the five entrepreneurs I talked about last week? I'm going to keep building on them each week so you can see how this can work as you practice it yourself.
Note - I've kept "clear category" from last week so you can see the momentum and I'll show you how these do add up to something you're going to want: that 30-second elevator pitch.
Adele Michal | Adele Michal Coaching
Clear Categories: Sales Coach and Speaker
Ideal Next Steps: Schedule a Complimentary Sales Session, Join newsletter, Set 1:1 for referral partnership
Janice Smith | Big Dog Little Bed Productions
Clear Categories: Wedding and Commercial Videography
Ideal Next Steps: Contact for a custom quote for event, Set 1:1 for referral partnership
Tonnie Prevatte | Prevatte’s Home Sales
Clear Category: Manufactured and Mobile Home Sales
Ideal Next Steps: Call me, visit the website, visit the home lot
Crystal Scillitani | LeadingUp Consulting
Clear Category: Education Consultant
Ideal Next Steps: Call me, read my blog
Annie Franceschi (Hey, that’s me!) | Greatest Story Creative
Clear Categories: Brand Creator and Speaker (or “branding agency” if describing the business, not myself)
Ideal Next Steps: Set a discovery call, Come to a Branding with Annie workshop, Set a virtual coffee date to discuss referral opportunities / collaboration
EXERCISE 2: DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT PEOPLE TO DO NEXT AFTER MEETING YOU
- Building off of last week’s category exercise, go back and consider them. Then think about what else you say.
- Write out and decide the ideal 2-3 action steps you want people to take after meeting you.
- Now consider, what are the most important and short 1-2 things that people need to know about you to be interested in those options?
- Then, trust me and ditch everything else you’ve been saying and focus on those for now when you’re out networking.
REPLY to me and let me know what your 2-3 action steps for new connections are going to be.
We’ll build on this more next week as we get into more of the meat and potatoes what you say beyond just your category and job title. I promise we'll get to the twist and the value!
What to do before next week: practice leaving parts of the story behind.
When you’re meeting people, try to focus on those clear categories we picked last week and not having them get bogged down with too much story.
You don’t need to sell your whole story all of the time- that’s why you have a brand, content you create around that business, products, services, and more. So don’t put so much pressure on yourself to tell it at all once - you just need to tell what matters most.
Picking those 2-3 ideal action steps will help you narrow things down - tell me what you pick! Let me know how it’s going. Promise to reply.