When you meet your perfect client (or your perfect employer – remember, if you prefer to be employed, that’s just working for a single client, you still need to sell yourself to them), are you able to tell them, simply and congruently, what you do, and – more importantly – what makes you special, what you are so brilliant at, and why it is so important to you? Remember – people don’t care what you know until they know why you care.
There is a tendency to get hung up on the “elevator pitch”, and try to cram it all into that 30-second (or 40-second) networking intro. But that’s not actually how it works – no-one is going to buy from you based on what you can get across to them in such a short space of time, those pitches are just to get them interested enough to have a longer conversation with you. It’s what you say during that longer conversation that will determine whether they will engage you (or refer you). So you have more than that ‘sound-bite’ 30s to articulate your Joyful Genius, and there is a structure that I have found works very well:
- What box do you go in?
People are basically simple, and they like a box to put you in. Start talking about the difference you make, before you've given them your classification, and they will be confused before you even start. So don't be afraid to start with "I'm an accountant", "I'm a therapist" or in my case "I'm a business executive coach". Many people are concerned that by starting like that, they will get stereotyped, and their prospect will decide "Oh, I don't need one of those!" - and that's where the next bit comes in:
- What's your passion?
This is where you talk about why your work is important to you, why it's what gets you out of bed every day, your purpose in being on the planet. I'm not talking some generic cliche that anyone could lay claim to, this is where you start to step outside of that box they just put you in. As an example, in my case it becomes something like "I have this firm belief that we all have an absolute right - a duty actually - to find joy in our work, so I'm all about getting people to own up to their Joyful Genius, the work they are brilliant at, they love to do, and they can be paid handsomely for." Note there that I've introduced the concept that I have made my own (Joyful Genius) and I've defined what it is (brilliant at, love to do, well paid). It's what makes me stand out from other business or executive coaches, so it's how I break back out of the box. Or, to be precise, it's how I start to reform the box around myself as a 'category of one'. And I've told them, by implication, what they are going to get by working with me - joy in their work, and incidentally (not!) they get to be well-paid for it.
- What's your genius?
And now you need to explain the particular talent you have - your skills and experience - that led you to your passion, and means you can serve your purpose. And deliver on your promise to them, of course. We're not trying to fit in with some arbitrary time-limit, this is for the longer conversation, so you can afford to wax a bit lyrical here. For me it tends to go something like: "After I got my MBA [experience, qualification] and did my coach training [competence], I realised I could apply my very analytical nature [my special talent] to both the business model and the person behind it, creating a rather special blend of passion and pragmatism that means my clients not only get to step into their genius, they can build an enjoyable and sustainable business around it."
- What's the end result?
Finally, you need to sum up what they are going to get by working with you (or employing you). You will already have sown the seeds in the passion and genius sentences, now you are going to sum it up in a memorable catch-phrase (which might just bear a significant resemblance to your strap-line). My summation usually sounds like: "Long story short, I get people loving what they do for a living, and making a living doing what they love!" That's actually the tag-line I used to introduce myself with - and whenever I delivered it, people would ask "Er, right ... so you're an accountant then?" or "... a marketer?" or "... into network marketing?" or any one of a number of professions that might make that claim. Since I started putting the explanation before the strap-line, the confusion has got much less, because I already told them the box I want them to put me in - even if I do then proceed to cheekily redefine it suit the real me!
In summary, the process is:
Create the box – step outside the box – reform the box around yourself to include the expanded and refined version of the box that you are uniquely qualified to fill.
When it’s all put together, my final introduction runs something like:
“I’m a business executive coach – I have this firm belief that we all have an absolute right – a duty actually – to find joy in our work, so I’m all about getting people to own up to their Joyful Genius – the work they are brilliant at, they love to do, and they can be paid handsomely for. After I got my MBA and I did my coach training, I realised I could apply my very analytical nature to both the business model and the person behind it, creating a blend of passion and pragmatism that means my clients not only get to step into their genius, they can also build an enjoyable and sustainable business around it. Long story short, I get people loving what they do for a living, and making a living doing what they love!”
It quickly and clearly articulates my unique beliefs, experience and attributes, to tell them who I am, why I’m special and what I can do for them. In other words – what’s so special about me!
How would you articulate your genius? (leave a comment so we can all see!)