You’re at the breakfast, a coffee chat or just catching up with friends when the question lands – “So what do you do?”. We have spent a few months together now, exploring your options when it comes to answering it. We have also looked at how best to maintain your brand online – be it through business posts or personal commentary.
However, there are three little words that can be your greatest undoing.
Back at the breakfast – where you are prepared with a great base statement about your brand – you know the problem you solve for the room you are in – and they know what’s in in it for them. It’s all so clear – but then you drop those three little words – and that look of certainty drains away from the listener’s faces. You just couldn’t help yourself as you utter ‘And I also’ at the end of an otherwise eloquent and succinct introduction.
As humans, we love certainty. We like to understand how things fit together and where we fit in. As we listen to you speak about your business, your interests, your goals or your family – so often we are subconsciously filing the information away – and it needs to make sense, particularly if we are looking to refer business to you.
I’ve done a lot of very scientific research for this column – reading Facebook chats and surveying colleagues at networking events – to gauge their reaction when someone drops the ‘And I also’ into their intro.
To be clear – I’m not concerned by a Plumber who also works with gas – or a finance broker who’s a bit of a generalist. I’ve gathered feedback on the ‘wow that came out of left field’ type of thing. The mortgage broker who also works as a florist or the Personal Trainer who does some Copy Writing on the side. The Photographer who also designs web sites.
Now I’m not saying you can’t do these things. There are lots of reasons why you would want to wear a few hats.
As the weather changes we often hear from business owners who need to level out the peaks and troughs of a seasonal business. They have the option of leveraging their existing business and it’s customer base to develop a product or service offering that boosts their income in what has traditionally been the ‘off season’. This may be something complementary to what they already do – or completely irrelevant. I once employed a chimney sweep – a winter type business – who ran a pool cleaning business in Summer.
Sometimes a business is so well niched that there just isn’t enough work to sustain you – so you need another arrow in your quiver which may or may be in line with your niched enterprise.
Other times you just get bored and need a side hustle to keep life interesting. It can be a paid gig or even a voluntary thing as your ‘give back’. It may, however, give off the vibe that you are not focussed or not completely committed to your industry if not discussed the right way. This is a particular issue for traditional business owners who suddenly try the ‘and I also’ with a MLM or Direct Sales type model. If not presented in a well thought out way – you can just confuse people and end up worse off. You are giving them too many options.
However – you need to think about the brand you are representing at the time. It may also be worth considering who is funding the interaction. If it’s your employer – they expect you to be representing them. Just them. Who is in front of you? Do they need to know everything you do or is it just confusing? It’s generally accepted science that the confused mind always says no. If we can’t understand what you do – or what’s in it for me I’ll just forget about it – and you.
Similarly – if we are going to refer someone in business, just like a great GP we want to refer to a specialist. We want to know you will look after the presenting issue. If you seem to be too busy or just not focussed, I lose faith in your ability to follow through. Whilst conducting my research the common concern was, ‘Will they be up to date’ and ‘What takes priority’.
You don’t have to have just the one string to your bow – but you need to be clear about who is in front of you and just address their needs. They are more important than your need to tell everyone about everything you do. Keep it relevant. Over time people will or may become aware of other things you so – but keep the forgoing information in mind.
As we go forward more and more business owners will have other projects on the go, for a variety of reasons. I’m certainly not in a positon to judge as I personally wear a few hats – though you’ll only ever see me wearing the one that is relevant to us and building our relationship. After all, I am passionate about building great networks, and I also, have other hats.