Do You Talk About Your Business Effectively?

When you talk about your business, be purposeful. Be strategic. Always think about positioning yourself in order to financially benefit from the connection. This sounds completely selfish. It’s not—it’s business.

Obviously, we all need people in our lives who fulfill our need for companionship, love, and friendship. But these aren’t your business connections, and they aren’t people whom you’re paying for a product or service. That said, you shouldn’t neglect them when talking about your business, even though they’re seemingly not in any position to affect your bottom line.

Does everyone in your network know what you do?

Have you been purposeful in informing everyone you know about what you have to offer? Think about everyone you come in contact with, both casually and intimately: friends and family; neighbors; people who go to your church; people you say hi to at the gym. Take a week or two just to notice where you run into people and how you could create opportunities to share your business.

Then brainstorm everyone who makes money off of you. Don’t just think “big” like your banker, lawyer, financial planner, accountant; think about people you may not pay a lot of money to but who may have many contacts: your pool guy, lawn guy, hairdresser, laundromat owner. My philosophy is, if they’re making money off of me, I should be making money off of them.

 What services do you offer?

When speaking about your business, what really matters to people is not what you do, but what problems you fix. So lead with your benefit – how your product or service can make their lives better. Don’t say, “I help new homeowners organize their finances so they can plan for the future.” Say, “Being a new homeowner is scary. Owners often worry about missing a payment or damaging their credit scores. I provide peace of mind by helping new buyers, and really anyone, develop budgets and financial plans that work.”

When you lead with the problem then show how you solve it, people listen – and they may immediately think of someone who needs what you offer.

Do you know how to turn a contact into a partner?

Once you’ve intrigued someone about what you offer, ask about that person’s products or services. Really show interest and think about how your services can support theirs and vice versa. When you see a connection, propose a partnership.

If the person is interested in discussing the partnership, you can go into greater detail about your business: your target audience, monthly transactions or production goals, the kinds of clients you have who may want the other person’s services. He or she should reciprocate with business details and possible new clients for you, as well.

Ask the person directly, “Are you willing to make the commitment that you will contribute to my bottom line and I will contribute to yours?” If you get a yes, start sharing referrals. If the person is not interested or does not have good referrals that bring you business, find someone else offering his or her services who will partner with you. Everyone who gets your money should be your business partner.

Change how you talk about your business, change who you talk to about your business, and change your expectations for business partnerships rather than just business “networking.” Follow this strategy and your business will grow exponentially. I know, because it happens every day at C.E.O.

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