I met this delightful woman the other day at a Chamber Event. She was new, I was new . . . we bonded over the rather odd entrée selection at the buffet: FRIED catfish or GRILLED catfish. If you didn’t like catfish . . . um, you’re SOL, I guess. This is the South and all, but it was weird.
Anyway, according to her name tag, she had a business I had never heard of and it sounded interesting. We’ll call her Patty. “So, Patty, what is Patty’s Closet?” I asked her. “Well, I have party rental items and can kind of help you plan and decorate your event and . . . ” Patty was cut off by the emcee and we were forced to sit down and eat the weird catfish while the Chamber did their business and got ready to introduce the new members (such as the likes of me and Patty).
I have to admit to you here . . . I LOVE when someone hands me a microphone. Not to anyone’s surprise, I have your typical Middle Child Syndrome and love it very much when I’m in the spot light and garner extra attention. I especially love to talk about my business and have spent a lot of time refining what goes in to holding people’s attention, what’s funny, edgy, memorable and appropriate when addressing a group and introducing yourself. That being said, the first five introductions were rather dull, especially those being read verbatim from a piece of paper.
However, when Patty got up, she absolutely, positively, without a doubt, KILLED IT! I mean, MURDERED IT!
But not in a good way.
When they gave Patty the Microphone, this is what came out of her sweet self:
“Hi, I’m Patty, I own a little store called, Patty’s Closet. We have cute things to rent for parties and events and can help you plan and decorate your event, too, if you want. I started out when all my friends kept calling saying, ‘Patty, can I borrow that serving piece,’ or ‘Patty, do you have any themed St. Patrick’s Day decorations,’ and YES, I had everything in my big Party Closet. So, my kids are all grown, I was just a stay-at-home mom for years and years and needed something to keep me busy when they left for college and I never did event planning professionally or anything but am having a lot of fun with my store. So, if you need anything, come see me. Thanks.”
Holy crap. Patty. You. Blew. It. BAAAAADDDDDDD.
Any interest you might have had from the 200 people in the room just went straight into the trash like most of everyone’s grilled catfish entrée and the rock hard hush puppies.
It was so very painful and I liked Patty so much. I know she really had great ideas and wanted her business to grow and succeed. I had to tell her. I had to share with her that she was sabotaging herself. She may hate me now but I pulled her aside after the meeting and asked her to please never introduce herself that way again. She was pretty shocked and perhaps taken aback that I would be so bold (again, we’re in the South, where this might not have been the most polite thing to do).
I asked her, “How many birthday parties, baby showers, brunches, luncheons and bridal showers have you planned and thrown over the years? Hundreds, I’d bet. That does make you a professional, an expert, an authority on the subject. Don’t discount yourself. Certainly don’t call yourself little or ‘just’ a stay-at-home mom!”
We talked for a few more minutes about how she could use her experience and her expertise to better describe her business and that she also needed to be more confident about what she was doing so she could gain trust and credibility quicker from her clients and reach for bigger goals and ask for bigger opportunities.
There are dozens, probably hundreds of books and blog posts out there to help you create a great intro, elevator speech, or memorable first impression.
If you think you might sound like Patty, go get a book, google it, read it, study it, practice it, bounce it off friends, colleagues, mentors or ME. Just make sure that when you get that valuable first opportunity to tell someone what you’re all about, that you KILL IT . . . as in Nail It . . . not as murder any possible opportunity you have to do business with this person in dying a sad, slow death by strangulation of wet toilet paper.
In case you recognize some of yourself in “Patty” and you’re thinking you might want to up your game, don’t worry, we have the answer for that: Build your Talk Tracks – Don’t Waste Those FirstImpressions!
Until next time, stop hoping, start SELLING!