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Friday, July 6, 2012

Can Speaking Live Boost Your Business?

by Jo Foster, Love Your Small Business

A month ago I was invited to speak on a panel for women business leaders at the University of Canterbury. I was excited to accept, even though I felt a good dose of imposter syndrome creeping in.

Janine and I have always wanted to combine our online work with face-to-face workshops and events, so this felt like a great opportunity to get out in front of some women in our sector and test out how effective public speaking might be as a tool for getting the word out about our work.
To clarify, this is not the kind of event where you get up and do a hard sell of your business, so attending was not just about getting clients. From our perspective it was a great opportunity to speak live in front of women from our sector and to build relationships. As it turned out, it has also been great for our business for a whole lot of other reasons….

Preparation is a great learning exercise!  

In the time leading up to the panel event, I thought a lot about what I might have to offer to a discussion about 'women leading in business'. I have a good understanding of the reasons why women enter into the world of entrepreneurship, and the key challenges that women in business face, based on our recent survey of Kiwi and Ozzie women entrepreneurs, but I was also looking forward to hearing from others. 
I also wanted to make sure I conveyed professionalism, knowledge, and our core vision and values. It was a lot to think about, but I got a lot of value out of the process and the pressure of a looming event caused me to put some serious thought into it! As a result, I have improved my ability to articulate what we do and why we do it. 

Nerves in my handbag but there was fun to be had!

So – last Thursday I headed along to the panel accompanied by a good dose of nerves. I have done a lot of public speaking in previous jobs and feel confident, but this was the first time I had put myself out there representing Love Your Small Business….and I had a great time!
The panel was chaired well, with simple questions that led to a bunch of different opinions on the topic. There was heated discussion, as well as thought-provoking questions from the audience. I also had an opportunity to speak a little about what we do, so I focussed on how we empower women to achieve business success by helping them make that core connection between profit and purpose, which was great.

Can speaking live boost your business?

Yes. I believe it can. Even when the event you are speaking at is not appropriate for selling, it can still have a big impact on your business. There were several positive spin-off's from attending this event for us: 
  1. Nothing beats connecting face to face: While online business works on many levels, live face to face connection is where it's at! After speaking at this event I was approached by at least 5 women, all of whom have followed up by contacting me and want to build a relationship with Love Your Small Business. These people are now a part of our community and we are excited to have them onboard!  
  2. Instant feedback: I loved the instant feedback I received from being at a live event. It's just not quite the same online – the body language, facial expressions etc.really give you a sense of the impact you have had. I also received a great response to the work we are doing with women in biz, and that was awesome to hear.
  3. The opportunity to get your unique message across and draw like-minded people to your work: Helping women entrepreneurs connect with their personal purpose and values, then use them to guide their business decisions, is at the heart of what we do. And let me assure you, we follow our own advice! 
    Despite my nerves and the possibility that my opinion would set me apart from other panel members, I contributed to the discussion based on my own purpose, vision and values, as well as the ones I share with Janine in our work together at LYSB. I know that some of my values & beliefs about how to 'be' in business did not resonate with all members of the panel or the audience, but you could never hope to please everyone and nor did I want to.
    The important thing to me was that those women in the audience who spoke with me afterwards did resonate strongly with what I shared. They felt compelled to speak with me based on shared values, and a connection that goes beyond anything that hyped up sales and marketing could ever do!
I came away from this event having connected with some inspiring women, potential partners and clients. I also received a great big boost of confidence. So absolutely yes, speaking live can boost your business.
We will definitely keep doing what we're doing, getting out in front of people face to face, and continuing to develop our strategy so that we can get face-to-face with people more in the future.

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