I recently attended a small business seminar organized by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the Small Business Association. It was one of the most inspiring events I have attended in years. When I was in college, I didn’t appreciate the information they were sharing. At that time I couldn’t see how the topics and lessons I was learning could be applied to my real world, but this workshop was different. This workshop was full of valuable information and a networking opportunity that was much needed.
One idea that stuck with me as I walked out of the doors was how to make myself into more of a conversation piece. I am a self proclaimed shy person. When I am teaching or around my fellow painters I am an open book, but when I enter a room full of other entrepreneurs sometimes I tend to clam up. When they ask what I do, I search for words to describe what I do without sounding all over the place. I needed an angel to help jump start the conversation and keep potential customers interested in me.
One of the lecturers flipped a switch in my head. He said your goal should be to make yourself, your artwork, and your business into a conversation piece. As I explained to him what I do, he said, “Stop right there, you are using too many words”. His advice was to show him and not tell him. Too many words sink the interest ship. So I went home and thought about it and really racked my brain to try to come up with something that would show and didn’t force me to tell.
So that night I logged on to Etsy and created a few pins that I could wear to networking functions. The pins say “Got Face Paint?” and another that says “Yes! I Painted my face”. It got me thinking, depending on the function, I would wear either pin with or without face paint. The pin acts as an ice breaker and it introduces me before I say a word. It also engages conversation which is my goal. When I face paint at gigs I always paint a design on my eyes and I get asked, “Did you paint your own face?” every time. If I am attending an art networking event and I have painted my own face and am wearing my pin, I can get the conversation started faster and hopefully win over their attention.
Think about how you can make yourself into a conversation piece.
- Wear your business shirt to the supermarket.
- Go to the children’s library or museum with your eyes or face painted and make sure to keep business cards in your pocket to hand them out.
- Take the time to google small business networking events in your area and get conversation ready.
No matter who you are or where you go, you will meet someone with kids, someone that has attended a birthday party, or someone planning an event and that’s your window to grab business and go!
Resources: Image of Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz from Wikipedia Commons.