When you are building a brand, you may find yourself in conversations where it is very hard to not focus the entire discussion around you. It’s understandable; you’re excited about your business, the ideas you have for it, and the bright future you have planned.
Honestly, if you have just started your business, a lot of people will forgive this. It’s endearing that you’re so excited and optimistic. But it’s endearing in the way that a cute puppy keeps licking your face…after a while it becomes irritating and gross.
So as you begin to immerse yourself in environments where there are a good number of other small business representatives, make sure you keep a lid on the abundance of me-me-me attitude that you have stored up. In fact, if you really want to build your network and engage in useful conversations, you need to direct the conversation to the other person. This shows that you not only respect them, but that you are interested in learning more about the industry as well.
This is not to say that there isn’t a time and a place to pitch people on your business or your brand. In fact, when you time these things right, it can be quite effective. There are a few common rules when it comes to talking about yourself and your brand in the company of others—especially your competitors.
- Never use a sales approach as the driving force of any conversation.
- Never speak ill of your competition or their lack of success. This makes you seem petty and like a mill for gossip.
- Only speak at length about your business if you are asked. In speaking, try to tie your story into the lives and/or businesses of those that are listening.
- Don’t give yourself too much credit.
- If you insist on trying to “sell” people on your brand, discuss it strategically. Bait them with a tease and then leave them hanging.
The fact of the matter is that there is an actual art to conversation. Philosophers knew this and modern lawyers live by it. In business, we have to approach conversations differently, especially for those of us that feel that we always have something to prove.
So long as you can keep integrity and humility at the forefront of your mind (and business) you will never alienate potential customers or network partners due to something foolish that comes out of your mouth.