Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Why You Need to Develop Smarter Introductions

Once you've learned the difference between gross and net, there is no more important skill for business leaders to master than developing a clear, compelling personal introduction.

Preparing your all-star, all-purpose mission statement provides multiple benefits. Instant clarity enables more productive business conversations. It can connect you faster and more efficiently to new ideas, new opportunities and new business relationships that will enhance your career and your life.

Wherever you meet people – at conferences, lunches or other events – you must be able to sum up your business role in a way that creates interest and stimulates follow-on conversation. People are always happy to meet interesting people.

A few well-chosen words can make all the difference between new contacts saying “Tell me more” or “See you later.”

Elevator pitches, missions, USPs (Unique Service [or Sales] Propositions) are all forms of business introductions. But developing them into compelling, relationship-building statements requires creativity, confidence and practice – which explains why so few people get them right.

Think of the last time you introduced yourself. Did your comments fire the other person’s imagination? Or did you mumble the first thing that came into your head: “I'm in the printing business.”

I'm not suggesting you “sell” to everyone. Most of the people you meet are not prospects. BUT – anyone could be a potential new partner, advisor or friend. They may know people who are prospects, or they may have access to resources you need. That’s why your job when you're out meeting people is not to sell, but to build relationships by signalling that you are interesting, your role is worthwhile, and your work matters.

Consider this typical dialogue when two business people meet at an event. 

Hi. My name’s Phil. 
I’m Julie. 
What brings you here, Julie? 
I’m here with my company. 
Oh? What company do you work for? 
Nelsoncom. Have you heard of it? 
First time. What does Nelsoncom do? 
Oh, we’re in office supplies. 
What kind of office supplies? 
All kinds, really ... 

And so it goes. A perfectly normal business conversation, awkward and full of pauses. Neither side is trying very hard.

Let’s imagine a better way. Where both people are proud of what they do and eager to connect. 

Hi. My name’s Phil.
I’m Julie.
What brings you here, Julie?
I'm in charge of procurement for Nelsoncom office supplies. We supply the entire Midwest with everything from staplers to office furnishings. We work with new brands that offer better value and more innovation than our biggest competitors.
That’s incredible, Julie. I work with a printer that specializes in rush jobs for really demanding clients. I bet we have a lot in common.
Do you work with Somfeld Industries? We've been trying to crack that account for years.
Yes. I even went to school with one of their VPs …


Notice how the first conversation drags on listlessly, while the second gets things done, with passion and vigour. That’s because both sides understood the importance of concise but expressive introductions that engage other people quickly and meaningfully.

I am convinced that anyone can develop compelling introductions that lead to deeper, more productive business conversations. Just keep in mind that passion is reciprocal. The more effort you put into being interesting and compelling, the more energy you’ll get back from other people!

To start you off, here are three ways to master the meaningful introduction.

1. Ugrade your introductions by selecting the parts of your story that are most compelling. What makes your business (or product) different? What makes it special?

2. Hint at the benefits or purpose behind what you do. How do you actually help your clients? How do you create value? Why do customers keep coming back?

3. Keep your intro short. Keep it human. Avoid jargon. Remember, you're not selling – you're connecting.

For more info on connecting more deeply through meaningful introductions, follow my new Twitter account, “Instant Clarity.” @clarity_instant.

Get help with your mission – free!
I tweet regularly about mission statements, introductions and branding. And I happily invite questions. My goal is to help people develop better introductions live-on-Twitter, so everyone can watch these messages evolve. This service is free – you just have to agree to go through the process in public. (Which is also great promotion, BTW.)

On our first day, we helped one company, Riverwood Acoustics, change its approach to branding. We’d be pleased to help you, too.

(If you're a marketer or consultant, you can join the conversation to help others improve their personal branding. Your input will be welcome.)

See you on Twitter!

Rick Spence:
"I help people create more exciting business messages."

Thursday, April 25, 2019

"Every person is an adventure"

A short note about networking.

When you are up to your neck in business and personal affairs, networking can seem like an extraneous, pointless activity. Why go out of your way to meet new people when you know most of them will never become customers – and you’re already too busy to properly serve all the people you know and love?
The answer is: the right people will surprise and re-energize you. 

So what if most of them will not buy from you? You already have (or should have) a marketing program designed to reach potential prospects. Networking is about nourishing your soul. It’s about breaking out of your solitude and your rut, and connecting with brilliant minds doing cool things. Their stories of purpose and achievement will inspire you, and their activities and new perspectives will trigger new ideas for refreshing your business doing things differently.

It's am effort to talk to take the initiative and talk to new people. And it’s getting even harder now, as people hide behind their phones in public places, masking their solitude with the appearance of activity and connection.

But every time I connect, it pays off. At a recent conference of social entrepreneurs, in Oxford, England, I met so many amazing people: purposeful investors, creative social activists, students searching for their place, a startup phone manufacturer from Peru, a guy with a 100-year-old one-sheet printing press. a French-Italian entrepreneur working in Finland to help home-based businesses in rural Africa. So many perspectives, so many stories, so much passion and energy!

When you open up to other people, your world gets bigger. New possibilities excite you. Hearing other people’s challenges reminds you that you don't have it so tough. Making arrangements to follow up with Skype calls and Zoom meetings ensures that these lessons and this energy aren’t lost.

And every time you talk about your own story you get better at it. You find new, better ways to describe your mission and engage other people. Contrary to popular belief, networking isn’t marketing – it’s personal development.

At Oxford, I tweeted about my experience.
Tired? Looking for inspiration? Get out and meet new people. Talk less, listen more. Follow up with those who make you smile.

You'll never regret it.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Climate Solutions: Follow CSI's epic "Pitch Night" through 11 Tweets

Full disclosure: I am a newly minted advisor to the Centre for Social Innovation's Climate Ventures program in Toronto. I'm looking forward to working with these and other outstanding cleantech entrepreneurs!













Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Surround yourself with good people (and much, much more)


Today is #TuesdayThoughts day on Twitter. I hope you'll find some inspiration from some of my favourites among this morning's tweets.










Sunday, January 06, 2019

Happy New Year! Best wishes for achieving your fullest potential in 2019.

If attitude determines altitude, your success this year will hinge on your mindset.
Are you focusing on the right things? Expelling negative thoughts from your life?

From author, speaker and leadership expert Jon Gordon, here are 20 tips for creating a more positive new year.
I particularly like numbers 5, 6, 10, 15 and 16: Smile, Serve, Read, Love.