As a business owner, it can often be very hard to separate yourself from your business, especially when speaking to others within the industry. In some environments, this is perfectly okay. At seminars and similar events, people expect you to talk yourself up. But if you’re having a casual lunch with people within your local network, you may want to tone it back a bit.
There is a fine line between remaining professional and promoting yourself in everyday conversations. Too much promotion can drive people away, yet not mentioning your business at all may leave you losing a potential business opportunity.
There’s no golden rule here—no exact science to finding the balance in where typical conversation ends and shameless self-promotion begins. To clear the waters a bit, here are some strategies to help you find a common ground.
- Rather than speaking endlessly about yourself, ask others around you questions. This is a great tactic, as it redirects the conversation elsewhere. Also, if you ask the right questions, you can learn new information about your industry.
- Never approach a conversation with direct sales in mind. If you do this, you are no better than those annoying Spam e-mails that pop up in your inbox—uninvited and irritating.
- Avoid words like “me”, “my”, and “I.” If you use them too many times in the course of a short amount of time, people are going to notice.
- Try not to speak ill of your competitors. This makes you seem jealous. Instead, try to work the successes of your competitors into the conversation.
- If, in the course of conversation, someone brings up an issue that you believe your service or product can help solve, it is okay to mention it. But be brief; drop the bait and see how they respond.
- If someone praises you or your business, thank them but then deflect the conversation to how the business of customers like them is what keeps you afloat.
Keep these things in mind the next time you are in a conversation about your industry. You might be surprised just how far not talking about yourself will get you.