Do you freeze up when someone asks you to talk about yourself? When a stranger (maybe a potential client, you never know!) asks what you do?
Do you get flustered, tongue-tied, and even a bit panicked?
Me too, sometimes. And I’ve attended at least 100 networking events — where I’ve had to talk about myself — each year for the past three years!
We writers tend to be uncomfortable talking about ourselves. Yet we have to do it at times. We can’t just hide out behind our computers (where we’re comfortable) with no contact with other people …
If we do, we’ll end up with no clients, no projects, no money to pay our bills, nothing to keep us living the writer’s life we love.
So we have to be able to talk about ourselves and connect with others. The thing is, nervousness is contagious. If you’re nervous while talking about yourself, you’ll end up making the other person nervous and uncomfortable … and they’ll be anxious to leave, to escape.
We have to talk about ourselves and share our stories, our experiences, and our strengths. And we have to do it in a way that is engaging enough that our audience doesn’t look around desperately trying to signal someone to rescue them.
Luckily, as web copywriters, we already have the skills to craft a compelling message.
Imagine you were writing a landing page introducing a new product, or an email announcing its launch … Or, better yet, a script for the video that will declare this great new item to the world.
The product you’re writing about — you probably guessed it — is YOU.
So let’s take this task of how to talk about yourself one step at a time and approach it like a writing project.
Step 1: Know your product
Your “product” is yourself, and you know yourself, but don’t skip this step. Think about your personal strengths in terms of how they benefit your clients. That’s what you’re going to talk about.
Step 2: Focus on the benefits
What are the benefits your clients enjoy from working with you? Pound the features of what you do down into the golden band of benefits that keeps your best clients loyal to you.
I like the “So what?” method I learned from Nick Usborne.
For example: I’m a direct-response copywriter for the wine industry, and I specialize in social media and web content.
So the social media and web copy I write for clients engages their customers and gets them to take a specific, desired action.
So the engaged customers remain loyal to my clients and buy more of their wine.
So the winery remains viable, people keep their jobs, and their paychecks don’t bounce.
I won’t keep going because you get the picture.
People respond emotionally to benefits. We know this as copywriters. But it’s easy to forget during a person-to-person conversation. However, if you’ve done the “So what?” exercise and determined the deep, emotional benefits of what you do before you enter a conversation with a potential client, it’ll be easier for those benefits to roll off your tongue.
By the way, doing this should also give you a boost of self-confidence. What you’re doing with your writing is making a difference and having a positive impact on someone!
Step 3: Get to know your prospect
Who is this person you’re engaging with? What does he really care about? You know these questions … What are his hopes, dreams, and fears? What’s keeping him awake at night?
You need to know so you can share information about yourself in a way that it relates to the other person. If he’s the owner of a local TV shop, he may care about different things than the marketing director of a winery would.
The point is, you have to know your prospect in order to know how to speak his language. That’s why I typically ask questions and get the other person talking about himself first, and then I can talk about myself in a way that he can relate to and will find interesting … and hopefully he’ll remember me because of it!
For example, if that TV shop owner mentioned there was increased traffic in his shop and he was selling more TVs because of the upcoming Super Bowl, I would mention the buzz in social media about the event … because expertise in social media is one of my strengths. I would then guide the conversation into showing how he could use social media to engage his customers and prospects.
Step 4: Craft a compelling headline
Think of your elevator pitch as your headline. Perhaps sit down and actually write a headline that you might use in our hypothetical project. Remember the benefits, and focus on what’s in it for your potential client. Crafting your elevator pitch in advance helps you deliver it more smoothly and effectively.
Here’s my elevator speech: I’m a direct-response copywriter, specializing in engaging web content (including social media) for the wine industry. My writing helps my clients engage with their customers, retain their club members, and sell more wine! You can remember me this way: my words add dollars to your bottom line.
Of course, if I were speaking to someone outside the wine industry, I’d drop all the wine references and make it specific to them.
You can do the same thing for whatever niche you’ve chosen to target.
Step 5: Tell your story
We’ve all heard the copywriting advice to imagine writing a letter to your best friend to tell her all the wonderful things about the product or service you’re marketing. You can also imagine sitting at a bar with this same friend, or sharing coffee …
Sounds a lot like your actual “speaking” scenario, doesn’t it?
Unlike the best friend in the imaginary scenario, you may not have a rapport (yet) with the stranger you’re talking to in person, and that’s where the nerves come in. But relax and draw on those copywriting skills you have.
Storytelling is a tried-and-true copywriting technique that can carry you through talking about yourself. Tell a story about a client you helped, talk about a specific project … just don’t forget the happy ending! Be sure to share the results!
Don’t be “that guy”
We’ve all encountered “that guy” who we’re eager to escape from after a few minutes. He monopolizes the conversation. It’s all about him, and he’s just not that interesting …
Don’t be “that guy.”
When you’re talking about yourself, look for body language that suggests the other person is no longer interested in what you’re saying. Is she looking around the room at anything and everything to avoid eye contact with you? Has she crossed her arms or angled her body away from you?
Pay attention, and change the subject to something that IS interesting before you lose her attention completely.
You’re a writer! You work with words all the time. Use your writing skills when you’re talking about yourself, and you’ll impress prospects every time!