Telling us everything about your company, your business plans, your clients and what a great CEO you are—verbally. Sometimes we see you coming. Worse, sometimes we don’t. It happens via phone. I can tell what’s happening when I walk past an editor’s desk and they’re holding the phone to their ear with that pained look on their face, like a trapped animal. We can’t be rude and hang up, but they just wont stop. It’s also an occupational hazard for us editors at networking events such as the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference. There’s nothing worse than an entrepreneur chewing your ear off for 20 minutes, monopolizing your time and blocking access to others who are also trying to network with you, about stuff you won’t remember 5 minutes after the spiel ends. (Actually there is something worse—when they do it while we’re eating, or literally standing at a urinal in the rest room. Yes, really.) What we’ll remember is how rude, annoying and unprofessional you were. Just kidding (kinda). We’re not that harsh. We understand how passionate and enthusiastic you are about your business, and how excited you may be to get an opportunity to tell one of our editors, face to face, how important it is for you to be in Black Enterprise. However, here’s a tip: There’s no way that we can memorize anything you say after the first three minutes of what you share, no matter how fascinating it is. There’s a reason why developing an elevator pitch is so critical to your ability to promote your business. Do us and yourself a favor: Keep it short, assume we’re interested if you’ve captured our attention for more than three minutes, and follow up with a detailed, professionally prepared package about your company via mail or e-mail to the editor. After that, it’s a okay to call to make sure we got your materials and to answer any questions we might have, and to e-mail follow up updates on your business to keep it fresh in the editor’s mind.
But understand this: You can’t talk your way into Black Enterprise. In fact, it’s more likely that you’ll talk your way out of a potential story, especially if you don’t provide us with the key information we’ll need to know about your business. Please, try to avoid emulating the person ridiculed by the late James Brown: “Like a dull knife, just ain’t cutting. Talkin’ aloud and saying nothin’.” And can a brother at least wash his hands?
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