I went networking last week because I really think I should be out looking for more business than we already have… and I’m really pleased I did. It was very entertaining.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I admire anyone who is proactive in winning themselves more business; I really do. I admire even more people who are brave enough to be just a bit different and not be self-conscious in their approach.
I’ll give you an example. Several years ago I attended a Business Network International (BNI) group for a year. It was great and, unusually for a training business, we got a decent amount of work from it.
There was this guy who also went. He wasn’t the most articulate man but he was there every week promoting his painting and decorating business. I’ll always remember his 60 second presentations (for those of you not in the know, every week, as a BNI member, you get to stand up and talk about your business for a minute) because he used to sing them to tune of Drifter’s songs.
Yes, you read that correctly: Drifter’s Songs.
And very funny he was, too. I’m not sure entirely intentionally, but, nevertheless, he made me laugh week after week. To cap it all he had a strap line:
We’re neat, we’re tidy, we’re finished by Friday!
We had our bedroom decorated last year. Guess who we got to do it.
Anyway, back to last week.
You see, there’s a fine line between brave and daft. I was in my networking meeting (not BNI, I hasten to add) and someone, during their presentation said: ‘What I do really is incredibly easy. I mean, if I can do it, anyone can!’
I mean, I know what she was trying to say, but it came out all wrong and my immediate thought was: ‘why do I need you, then?’
It was a well meant phrase that had the opposite effect than intended. But it does go to show how careful you have to be when communicating on any level. Some of the gaffes I’ve been the recipient of include things like:
‘You just have to run faster…’ From my games teacher at school, when I’d been running as fast as I possibly could.
‘When’s the baby due?’ Absolutely genuinely; my mate to the lady he was talking to at the dinner table. She was just large.
‘Hello, Suzanne.’ My dear old Nan to my new girlfriend when I was 17. My girlfriend’s name was Lisa; Suzanne was the ex! Actually so was Lisa pretty soon afterwards.
But there is a solution to all this planting foot firmly in mouth. It’s called breathing. Training yourself to take a single breath before splurging out a sentence in a delicate situation could save you a lifetime of embarrassment.
It’s not easy to do, but try it, just for a day.