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The Two Sentence Advantage
by June Campbell

Has this happened to you? You attend one of these ever- popular networking events and the MC calls for introductions. Everyone is expected to stand and introduce themselves and their business. You note gratefully that the MC has imposed a 30- second time restriction on each introduction. Now there's hope you'll make it home in time for tomorrow morning's Corn Flakes.

Then it starts. One by one, your fellow networkers treat you to long, rambling monologues.

"…er, Hi. I'm Rambling Rose. I ..uh… have a business. Me and my partner, Buck. It's called Rose and Buck's. We … uhhh ... offer services to small businesses and we do lots of things. We help you increase your uh… profitability while, er, a… finding new strategic markets…. Oh, yeah, and we do image consulting… and, well, our office is downtown, but you can reach us by email…. ."

Does anyone actually manage to pay attention to these sagas? Maybe for the first couple, but after that, both the brain and the read end go numb.

Occasionally, someone like Cutesy Cathy manages to break the boredom. Cutesy Cathy knows exactly what to say. She's planned it out in advance, which would normally be a very good idea. There's only one problem. Cathy believes that a "cute, catchy introduction" will grab your attention. She's right about that.

"I'm Cutesy Cathy and I can help make your dreams come true," she squeals triumphantly.

You know what your dreams are and you have serious doubts about Cathy's ability in this area. You roll your eyes and mutter, "Beam me up, Scottie!"

Now it's your turn.

You stand, and in a clear voice, you announce confidently, "I'm Mark Marketer of Internet Marketing Inc. My company helps small businesses develop a customized approach to marketing their products and services on the Internet."

Wow! Look at that. Two sentences and the group members know who you are, who your company is and what services your company offers. No sloppy thinking, no vague ramblings, no clever gimmicks -- just straightforward information that people can remember and use.

I call it The Two-Sentence Advantage. In a sea of Ramblin' Roses and Cutesy Cathies, you'll be heard if you stand up and introduce yourself in two succinct sentences.

For some, the task is relatively straight- forward. If you are a self-employed accountant, for example, your introduction might be, "I provide accounting services to businesses and organizations."

Others among you may discover that defining yourself in two sentences isn't as simple as it sounds. Many of today's business activities are complex. Coming up with a good Two- Sentence Advantage will require some thought and pre-planning.

I can hear the complaints already. "I'm a busy entrepreneur. I work 60 hours a week. Is it a good use of my time to sit around thinking about a Two- Sentence Advantage?"

Yes. For starters, it will help you clarify in your own mind exactly what your business is all about and what you provide. Until you can explain your business to yourself, you will be doomed to ramble and mumble when you try to explain your business to someone else. What's more, by adding a few minor variations, your Two- Sentence Advantage will be useful in places other than networking meetings. With a little thought, you can adapt it for use in the following ways:

1. For your business cards, brochures and other marketing material.

2. For your Web site.

3. For registering your web site with Internet search engines or directories.

4. For use in any of the places on the Net where business people are asked to explain their work in 50 words or less.

5. For introductions to other people.

6. As an email signature

7. For summary information on business plans, proposals, sales letters or other similar material.

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