Overcome your fear of networking with this new perspective on the networking elevator pitch!
Picture the scene
From a screen of face-filled squares your face expands into full screen mode. You have just been put on the virtual stage.
It is your turn to introduce yourself.
You are going to tell people — in 60 seconds — what you do.
This is your big moment. Don’t blow it.
Oh — you just did!
You apologised for not really having a good description of what you do.
You actually said ‘Technically I’m a xxx, but that’s not really a description I like.’
What is going on? You are an intelligent business owner who is ruddy good at what you do!
However, it appears you are using words that don’t align with you.
I suspect this is because they are the default ‘acceptable’ words and your style of language is less ‘traditional’.
When something doesn’t align with you — you trigger off ‘squashed’ vibes in your head, heart and gut!
But you need to say something?
And you need to make it clear and concise to engage people who don’t know a thing about you.
Try these 3 steps to discover your 2 word aligned answer to the question ‘what do you do’?
What is the message you are communicating?
1. Brainstorm ‘what you do’
2. Brainstorm ‘how you do it’
3. Brainstorm outside your bubble
I will use myself as the case study. Makes sense!
1. What do I do
For years I felt ‘wrong’ every time 2 words reluctantly released themselves from my mouth — or sat uncomfortably on my LinkedIn profile and website.
What are these 2 evil words?
Wait for it…
Not that confusing, controversial or contrived.
So the problem?
The words didn’t feel ‘me’.
I don’t give my clients ‘communication’ as such. I give them communication skill knowledge and more. I give them a chance to try out different ways of communicating. Whilst communication is a big deal in our lives, the word doesn’t excite enthusiasm!
It was often been repeated back to me as: ‘comms.’
No! I would scream.
Well, not scream so much as whimper ‘not exactly’ followed by a rambling correction.
Comms in business is also about phone lines, broadband connections and software!
Not the dynamic, nuanced set of external and internal behaviours I mean by communication.
So I approached the conundrum from a different direction.
I asked myself — ‘what do I give?’
A bit of brainstorming later and — the word emerged.
I give confidence.
What I do is about encouraging individuals to try out ways of communicating that lead to them feeling confident.
This word felt solid. It felt aligned with why I do what I do. It felt more ‘me’. It felt more descriptive and — inspiring.
Now I had to deal with the dreaded ‘coach’ word.
2. How do you I do it
Coach. Consultant. Expert. Director. Teacher. Trainer. Magical pixie…
So many words. But what do they mean?
More importantly — what do they mean to me and you?
None of them feel right to me. Feelings matter.
I am a bit of all of them. Maybe not the pixie.
But I don’t relate to all them.
‘Coach’ might be the closest in terms of what I do with individual clients — but I am not in possession of a coaching qualification. I do not coach in a way I think ‘proper’ coaches do!
Now I am putting myself down.
That’s what happens when you use the wrong word! It is all ‘wrong’ and you end up justifying, apologising, fudging and rambling.
But I need to find a word that people understand.
After a good brainstorming — I decided on ‘mentor’.
Definition of mentor:
“Mentorship is the influence, guidance, or direction given by a mentor. In an organizational setting, a mentor influences the personal and professional growth of a mentee. Most traditional mentorships involve having senior employees mentor more junior employees, but mentors do not necessarily have to be more senior than the people they mentor. What matters is that mentors have experience that others can learn from” (Wikipedia)
Now this felt right.
I have direct experience of mentoring — even a cute little certificate if I felt the need to pin it up!
But whilst this made sense to me — would it make sense to anyone else?
Let’s move to the all important validation phase. Step 3.
3. What do others think
Whilst I have put this as step 3 in the process of nailing your 2 words — it would be good to put this at the top of the list too — a ‘discovery call’ is a great way to start.
This is about perspective. Get away from the curse of knowledge. Get out of your bubble and bias.
Don’t go to lovely friends who might just say ‘yes — that’s perfect’!
Pick people who know you less well — some LinkedIn connections for instance.
Set the conversation up as forensic — you want to pick apart and examine — not just be told how great you are!
Now go try it out for size!
Put it in your LinkedIn headline.
Use it as the answer to ‘what do you do’ at the next networking event.
Monitor your feelings.
If it feels right — and you have checked that it works beyond your bubble — then embrace it and note how much better you feel generally.
Having gone through the above process I happened to be listening to the highly recommended My Fourth Act podcast in which @Achim Novak interviewed Eileen McDargh. She had 2 words to describe what she did.
I challenge you to give this a go. Remember — it is you — not me or Eileen!
Networking frustration is just one of the ‘cases’ explored in ‘The Mystery of the Squashed Self’. Available on Amazon — other booksellers to follow.
I have a YouTube Channel with videos on this topic and other communication and confidence tips.