By Mark Satterfield
To get the most out of the time you invest in networking, you need to communicate what you do in a way that’s short, concise and memorable. Sounds simple, right? But it’s amazing how many people fail at this. People tend to describe their businesses in a way that’s either too technical for the average person to understand, or far too general.
An overly technical description of what you do is especially harmful if you’re trying to sell to the top-level decision-maker. Most top decision-makers are fairly far removed from the detailed aspects of their business. They have specialists on their staff who deal with technical implementation issues. Thus, if you approach them with a highly detailed description of what you do, they’ll likely refer you to someone on their staff.
Conversely, if you’re too general, it’s difficult to visualize what you do and as a consequence the listener’s level of interest will decline. For example, I recently asked a person at a networking event what he did.
He replied, “I make people productive.”
“What type of people?” I asked.
“Everyone,” he said.
“How do you do that?”
“Lots of different ways.”
A vague description like this makes it difficult for me to refer his expertise to other people I meet.
Hollywood studios use what’s called a “log line” to summarize a two-hour movie in a single sentence.
For example: “A South Carolina pacifist plantation owner joins the war for independence after a British officer murders his 15-year-old son.” That’s the log line for the movie “The Patriot.”
Here’s another:”A fact-based sea yarn about the skipper of a Massachusetts swordfish boat that finds itself in the path of killer storms.” That’s the log line for “The Perfect Storm.”
Business owners and executives need to develop a log line for their business. Here’s a simple process to do just that. Write down answers to the following two questions.
I specialize in working with … Who? What type of industry? What types of people?
I help these people to … Do What? Satisfy what need? Achieve what goal? Avoid what consequence?
Your log line is now mostly complete. All you need to do is combine the two sentences together. “I specialize in working with (who?), helping them (to do what?).”
You’ll notice that my log line follows this same format; “I specialize in working with sales teams, helping them make prospecting for new business more productive and less frustrating.”
Remember that your goal is to 1) strike a balance between being overly vague and mind-numbingly technical, and 2) describe what you do in a way that’s both understandable and elicits further interest.
Vistage speaker Mark Satterfield is the founder and CEO of Gentle Rain Marketing Inc. Since 1992 he has assisted consultants, advisers and entrepreneurs get consistent streams of brand new business with no cold calling or hard selling. Mark can be reached at Mark@GentleRainMarketing.com.
Originally published: Aug 23, 2011