Pitching your business: Brand (part 1)
At some point in time you may decide to seek funding for your business, add new partners, or even give presentations selling your ideas to large audiences. You’ll need to be ready to transform yourself into a persuasive presenter that people will take seriously.
Let me tell you, being a 22 year-old and sitting down with people double my age while trying to convince them to take my ideas seriously wasn’t easy for me and still isn’t today. Actually, I was 21 when I was doing most of my pitching, and it was in one of the most intimidating places in the world: New York City.
So being a student and trying to pitch people, you really need to be on your best game. People look at our age and automatically think that we don’t know anything about anything (ha, little do they know). You have to be mentally prepared to be the professional that you know you are (but he or she doesn’t know that yet), so get ready to prove it to them. No fear.
At first, like anybody, I was very nervous meeting random people for lunch or coffee to talk business; people that knew a lot more than I did and have been in the web business for 10+ years ( but so what if they know a lot, you know what you’re talking about, too). So you can imagine how fast my heart was pumping during those initial meetings; but as time went by, I starting to build up an immune system and my pitches got better and better.
Be ready for tons of rejections, those are very normal. Be ready to get back up and go even stronger the next time. Never let a “no” discourage you, it can only help you. Use the rejections as fuel to become better and better.
I knew that if I wanted to become a better pitcher, then I’d have to practice, practice, practice. I knew that I’d have to be fully prepared of what I was going to speak about and how I would counter any hard questions – all of this preparation was absolutely vital.
This is where I began:
Becoming a BRAND:
A Brand: The perception people have of the experience of having a relationship with you or your company. In this case it’s YOU.
You have to think of yourself as a brand. I think Jay-Z said it best when he said: “I’m not a businessman; I’m a business, man.” He couldn’t have said it better. You have to think of yourself as the actual business, because you automatically become everything your business encompasses when you’re giving the pitch – you really ARE the business.
Look, I’ll even prove it to you. Imagine that you're looking at the following images below and think to yourself what words you would use to describe each person:
1.Evil Sadam Image
2. Gandhi Image
When I see the first image, the words that comes to my mind are: evil, terror, and murder . And for the second image I think of kindness, peace, and love right away. See how powerful our images are? Create an image for yourself that people can define right away when thinking about you.
You need to ask yourself this question: When clients think about you, what would they say? In order for that answer to be positive, you need to define yourself and project those definitions of yourself during your presentations.
It helped me to create a list of “Self-Perception” that would ensure that I created a correct and positive perception of myself and how I wanted to be looked upon. Take some time to really consider what aspects about yourself are important enough to help you build your personal brand.
Here’s a list that I made for myself:
Don’t forget about the power of feedback:
One way to find out if you’re creating a positive brand image of yourself is to simply ask people you come into contact with on a regular basis, try to find people who will give you honest feedback, not just BS from people trying to be nice to you. Seek out people who see you from different angles to fully benefit from the feedback process. These people may include:
* Your boss
* The guy who makes your sandwiches at your deli
* (Not your girlfriend or boyfriend, please)
Really ask them to be honest and upfront with you. Let them understand that their feedback will add value to your brand image and becoming a better presenter. And remember to write down ALL of the feedback you got from your group so that you’ll remember what you are doing well and what you have to work on.
Stay tuned for part 2…