If I were to ask you what your company did, what would you say?

Would you start with dry facts like the year it was established, or who it was founded by?
Would you looked shocked to be asked and search your brain for the best way to explain it?
Would you mumble something general with the implication it’s not something you really want to talk about?

Or would you smile, and not just tell me what your company does, but what they can do for me (succinctly)?

Obviously I’m hoping for the last one. I have been to endless networking meetings (and they really did seem endless) where people haven’t given a second thought to how to say what they do, and waste any chance they get for networking by hanging out with their friends and catching up on gossip.

I’m not really complaining, I just think we can all do better. You know that you are going to have to (and probably quite often) explain what your company does, and what you do for your company – we should all get better at it.

It’s a chance to sell, I know that many of us think of selling as a bad word, but it’s what business is all about. Buying and selling. It’s what you do, no matter what profession you are in. You maybe selling education, dreams, fitness, social awareness but you are still selling. When you get a chance to tell someone what you do, make it count. The truth is, as human beings, we are not so much interested in what you do, as what you can do for us (or people we know and can tell about you).

We don’t need to know everything about your company in one go, just enough intriguing information to start a dialog. Get together with a group of colleagues and friends and practice. Yes, it’s important enough to practice.

If you are in Lafayette this applies: Last week, a group I run (called SPICE) tackled this subject, and spent a couple of hours brainstorming and trying out new ways of introducing ourselves. It really made a difference. I started the group because I want to be surrounded by business people at their best – it’s purely selfish, I know if I’m surrounded by great people I will push myself harder to keep up.

SPICE is presented in conjunction with the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce. It  runs on the first Monday of every month from 3.30-5pm. You can find out more by asking to join the facebook group, SPICE (yes, we will let you in). Each month we tackle a different topic, and brainstorm best practices and ideas. It’s a great atmosphere, full of honesty and creativity. You don’t have to be a member of the chamber to attend – just bring yourself, your brain and your willingness to learn. It’s a great place to get feedback and get better.

(This column was first published in The Daily Advertiser on May 15th 2012 – all rights reserved)