Networking and Pitching Tips for Introvert Entrepreneurs 34

Networking and Pitching Tips for Introvert Entrepreneurs

This is a guest post by Phil Turner who has come to love networking with local entrepreneurs in Cork. Phil loves networking so much that he and a friend have set up BiZZrepublic.com. This is a community site where entrepreneurs can network and gain access to free training resources both online and in local venues.

Does the thought of standing in front of a room and pitching your business fill you with horror?

Me too.

So I worked out a better way, one that worked WITH my introvert nature instead of against it.

MeetUps: Real World Social Media Networking

I have always been an avid fan of the power of networking using online forums (fora?): So much so that I have built my reputation and blogging business on the power of forum contacts.

Facebook groups and Twitter chats have their place, but neither floats my boat like a forum.

Then in 2016 I discovered the real-world equivalent of a forum – MeetUp.com.

If you have an interest in real world networking you need to check out MeetUps in your area. You will find every city has multiple MeetUp groups devoted to everything from yoga to coastal walks, from writing a book to mountain climbing. My own passion is entrepreneur networking.

Are You an Introvert Entrepreneur?

It’s been tough as an introvert entrepreneur, but I have found inspiration from people I have met online, especially Beth Buelow at The Introvert Entrepreneur.

I joined a few local entrepreneur Meetups that ranged in size from ten to fifty. I was horrified when I found people standing up to talk about their business – Pitching. I realised it was something I had to learn to do.

My first pitch was a disaster, a ‘Big I am’ pitch just like everyone else’s. It was unnatural, it wasn’t me and I got neither contacts, nor business as a result. It was Boring.

Hi, I’m Phil. I am a blogger. I can help you to build a blog on your website and show you how to use it to build your reputation and grow your business.

Me, me, me.

Mine was just one in a long line of ‘Big I am’ pitches and people just wanted it all to end so they could get to the bar.

One friend, John Keating (@MrSpeaking) gave me one piece of advice – “Start your pitch by putting the focus on the listeners.” It took me a while to work out what he meant, but I read up on successful pitching and developed a better approach.

Pitching the Introvert Way

As an introvert, I am naturally a good listener. I am also a teacher, which involves at least as much listening as speaking. I needed a way to put the emphasis on the listener as my friend John had described.

The Hook

I had the idea of asking a question to get the audience’s attention.

How many times have you pitched for business this year?

I am still testing different versions of my pitch, but starting with a question seems a good start.

John Keating posted a link on Facebook that helped me to refine the start of my new pitch – How to Deliver the Best Speech of Your Life. This reminded me of the power of threes, as in the tricolon.

 How many times have you pitched for business this year? Do you pitch for fun? Perhaps you are pitching for kicks?

Setting the Hook

Once I have the audience listening and thinking about the questions I just asked the next part of my pitch is obvious because most people I speak to find pitching difficult

“It’s the only way to get jobs” I hear you thinking

I disagree.

In the past 7 years I have never once had to pitch for work. People come to me.

Reeling them In

That’s enough about me, just enough to pique their curiosity. Now for the Call to Action

Of course, if you are pitching for fun, just carry on.

Am I pitching for work now?

NO WAY, but if you ask me nicely I can show you how to get clients to come to you, so you never need to pitch again. Ever

The whole ‘non-pitch’ is like a conversation where I suggest to the audience what their lines should be.

Your Non-Pitch

Do you like the idea of a non-pitch? It comes more naturally to most introverts than the stereotypical ‘Big I Am’ pitch you hear so often. If it comes naturally to you, you will come across as natural to your listeners. They will like you, which is the first stage of doing business with you.

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The Five Elements of Flawless Customer Experience 11

The Five Elements of Flawless Customer Experience

Providing a flawless customer experience is the ultimate goal for any business.

There’s a lot that goes into creating a customer experience that keeps your clients coming back for more. In fact, there’s so much involved that it can almost seem overwhelming.

However, providing a flawless customer experience becomes much easier when you approach the task through these five distinct elements:

Time
Understanding
Ownership of Emotions
The Unexpected
Follow-Through

Time

When it comes to your customers’ satisfaction, time is essential. Think of how a great experience at a new restaurant quickly sours if you’re left waiting for your food to arrive. Think of how your excitement over a great department store sale turns into frustration as you stand in line for what seems like hours.

Time is your most valuable resource and it is up to you to make sure you’re using your customers’ time wisely.

This is why restaurants have comfortable waiting areas with drinks and appetizers, or why airports have lounges with restaurants, shops, and even bars.

If your customers are being forced to wait for a service, make them feel as if their time spent is not wasted. The more positive drivers you offer customers, the less likely they are to grow dissatisfied with their experience.

Think of how you can implement this in your own business. Are there places where you can help fill customers’ time? Are there places where technology can be used to cut down on the time it takes to complete a task? Remember, it’s the customers’ time that should be valued, not your own.

Understanding

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You must understand what your customers want, when they want it, and how.

While this may seem daunting, getting a better understanding of your customers doesn’t take millions of dollars, complex data analytics, and a degree in psychology. Instead, all it takes is a simple look. Watch their process, engage with them, ask them questions, and listen to them.  

How are customers interacting with your product? What’s the first thing they do when they enter your store? What’s the last thing they do before they leave? How long are they spending in each department? Do you notice anything that hampers their experience?

Take a look at your competitors. How are your potential customers interacting with them? What does this business offer that you don’t or vice versa? What is your, as Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen says, “job to be done?” What are your customers hiring your product or service to accomplish? Understand why your users are turning to your products.

Ownership of Emotions

Many companies have already taken hold of their customers’ emotions, though cynically. Subliminal advertising is a key example. However, the ownership of emotions does not have to be cynical. When used correctly, it can be the “holy grail” for companies.

Owning emotions begins with the aforementioned ability to understand. When you truly understand a customer’s choices and then act to make the experience better, you’re building a relationship of trust. That trust is the foundation of emotional ownership.

One way to build this trust is to reduce the “emotional” noise that surrounds your customers. Let them know that, even on their worst day, your business or product is there for them and that it will be a constant in their lives.

Think of restaurants and the long wait times you have to endure when they’re busy. Think of how angry—or “hangry”—you feel as you stand around, waiting for your table, and listening to your stomach growl. However, think of how some restaurants are able to reduce that emotional noise by serving you finger foods and drinks as you wait.

Also, seek to understand what emotionally motivates your customers.

Why should they be motivated to visit your store or use your product? To feel confident? Free? Unique? Secure? Successful? Research shows that all human beings are motivated by one of those factors.

The Unexpected

Experiences become stronger and more memorable when they’re accompanied by an element of surprise. Surprise can be addictive, which will only keep your customers coming back for more.

Think about mailing your customers or clients small packages with gifts and swag. Everyone loves to get mail and everyone loves free stuff, especially when it’s least expected.

A surprise doesn’t have to be a huge flash mob (though it could be!). Hand out snacks at your store. Is it a cold day? Give your customers hot chocolate or warm punch. Is it a client’s birthday? Send a card! Even a small note of thanks for a customer’s business is a nice little surprise.

The most important thing to remember: simply be sincere and don’t become predictable. Chocolates on hotel pillows were once a great surprise for guests. However, now that their wow-factor has faded, hotels are continuously trying to get back to the “unexpected.”

Follow-Through

You’ve made promises and established goals. The only thing that’s left is to follow through on them. This starts with creating your mission statement, one that you, your employees, and your customers can commit to it. This will define your customer experience.

Your mission statement must promise to impact yourself/your business, the community, or the world. It may commit to impacting one, or all three. However, whatever it promises, you must follow through on. Your customers’ trust, and thus their experience, depends on it.

More about these five elements can be discovered in Unforgettable: Designing Customer Experiences that Stick, to be published in 2018.

***
Kyle H. David has made a career in technology and entrepreneurship for nearly 20 years. In 2001, he formed The Kyle David Group, now KDG. Over the past 16 years, KDG has grown at a rapid pace, attracting clients ranging from the United States Senate to major financial institutions, international nonprofits, and Division I universities.