So, you are a leader in your regional startup community or entrepreneurial ecosystem. You are the Executive Director of the organization tabbed to lead the effort. Or you are the VP of Entrepreneurship at the Chamber of Commerce. Or maybe you are a program manager with responsibility for growing innovation at the state’s commerce department. Regardless of the role and the organization you are always selling.
But what do you find yourself selling most of the time?
When you start a conversation with someone new to you, you invariably plant the initial seeds with this new person of what is important to you. This sets the tone and the topic of conversation from that point forward.
As an ESO (entrepreneurial support organization) it is pretty telling how you start this conversation and this says a lot about what is important to you and your organization.
How many of you introduce you and your organization first?
“Hi, I am Jenna, and I am the Director of Entrepreneurship at Startup insert city and we are tasked with helping entrepreneurs in the region. We are funded by grants from the city, county and state government and have been in operation for over 10 years. We have a staff of 6 and primarily run an annual innovation conference as well as a few small programs. Blah blah blah blah blah. . .”
Can you see what you are selling? You are selling your support organization when you should be selling your regional entrepreneurs. This accidentally signals that you care more about your organization than you do about the very people you are tasked to serve.
Try this version on for size. “Hi. I am Jenna, and I help entrepreneurs build their businesses. For example, Dave Brown started his software tech business about 5 years ago and we made about 20 introductions to both angel and small venture capital firms when he was raising his first round. Or have you heard about Mary Jacobs who started an online sales coaching business for the automotive sector who now has over 100 monthly enterprise clients. She just crested $1M in annual revenue and we helped her refine her curriculum by connecting her to 2 of our local ed-tech founders who had scaled their company and exited a few years ago.”
See the difference? See the impact of tone and topic that sets up the next part of any conversation. It’s all about the founders and we all can be reminded that without their success, we are not successful.