Sometimes I go to the Bend Chamber of Commerce events. I was reluctant at first, expecting a stiffly formal, hyper-networky experience. While networking is clearly the goal, and no one is ashamed to admit it, I've found them to be an overall nice experience. It's actually refreshing to be somewhere where the networking aspect is just way out in the open. “Selling yourself” is invited, and everyone is clearly looking for ways to both make new business connections for themselves and to facilitation business connections for one another. I love it when everyone is just up front about what they're up to.

A recent Friday morning I went to an Entrepreneurial Council meeting put on by the chamber. These are educational meetings, with a speaker who shares business tips, insights, strategies with the group. After a few minutes of planned networking, the formal business of the meeting began. The council chair did a few announcements and then, to my surprise, he said he thought we had a small enough group to go around the room and introduce ourselves and our business. There were at least 40 of us! Only my second meeting, I had no idea this would happen. The first meeting I attended had more like 60 people and we did not introduce ourselves.

Now, ordinarily this is a good opportunity. Here's this audience of 40 people waiting to hear about my business. Given the nature of my business, this is my target audience, no less. You can't pay for this kind of targeted exposure! Why am I not thrilled?

I am totally unprepared. And when you are a “communication coach and consultant”, you, um, really should be prepared to say what you do. And when your business name is Eloquence Communication, ideally you can say what you do, um, eloquently.

I know what I do, of course. I even have a “pitch” I can say. However, I realized sitting in this room that the pitch I have isn't the right one for two reasons. First of all, it is mostly designed for small business owners and entrepreneurs – this room is full of these AND people from larger organizations. Second, my pitch does not include a specific description of the benefits of working with me. Crazy! While I work regularly with people on these very things, I have not taken the time to rethink my own “elevator speech”. Fine time to realize this!

So, I fumbled through a less-than-eloquent description of what I do, counting on the big smile and facade of confidence that are necessary in these types of situations. No one looked phased (great business people never do) but no one rushed up to me to discuss my services either. And now I am working very actively on what I prefer to call my “party pitch language” so that I am never in this missed-opportunity situation again. I'll keep you posted.