Dominik Loncar, Futurpreneur Canada Entrepreneur-in-Residence, dloncar@futurpreneur.ca

We’ve all experienced people who rush to talk about their business idea or dive into a pitch like they’re on the Dragon’s Den.  The vast opportunities for entrepreneurs, however, come through having conversations with others.

One of the best approaches is what I call a “layered approach”.  This means that as you engage in a dialogue you release selected information about your business over the course of the conversation.  In our information overloaded world it’s all about the timing.

The Layered Approach

1.  Start with being clear on your offering.  There is no need to rush into technical lingo about your product, or get grandiose about your idea (i.e. the next big thing since the smartphone) when you meet someone.  If people are not clear on what you offer, most will be too polite to press further.   Think clarity, not impact.  When I’m engaged in a dialogue with someone, I want to know, in simple terms, what they are offering.  No need to give me all the details, yet.

If you see the person you are talking to shows further interest, or they ask for clarification go to number two on this list.

2.  This is a good time to talk a bit about your story.  What prompted you to start your business (or your intention to start one)?  Was it a problem you saw no one was solving or solving effectively? Was it time to share your expertise? Or was this an opportunity that spoke to you?

If you see further interest or they ask for clarification go to number three.

3.  Talk about the benefits of your product or service.  If you’ve done step one and two then this will flow naturally.  If you have made sales or tested the product/service what were the results? What have customers said? If this is a new idea, what do you believe the benefits will be to the customer? Now you can mention why your idea is great or better, or simply worth doing.

If you see further interest or they ask for clarification go to number four.

4.  What’s your next challenge?  Do you need more customers?  Are you searching for another supplier? Do you need answers to your marketing?  The person you’re talking to may have a connection or have a suggestion. Stick to one challenge, though, as this will give the conversation focus and not feel like you have a shopping list of problems.

Before engaging in this layered approach, keep the following in mind:

  •  You should not necessarily rush into clarifying your offering unless you’ve broken the ice with the person you met.
  •  Show interest in the other person you are talking to.
  • The layered order may not need to be exactly as stated above.  Your first priority however is to make it really clear on what you are offering, even if it means showing your product (i.e. on your smartphone) or giving an example.

A dialogue is a two-way street.  Simplicity and connecting with others will show you’re authentic. Ultimately, this will make you memorable and create lasting impact over any pitch you may have.