Hi there! I’m your English coach Christina, welcome to Speak English with Christina, where you’ll learn American culture and business know-how to become confident in English.
Whether you have your own business or just want to expand your network for future opportunities, there’s one thing you can not avoid: pitching.
But, I’m not talking about the big formal presentation-style pitch. I’m talking about the more casual, conversational pitch. You never know when your small talk conversations will become an opportunity to build your business and today, you’ll learn how to casually pitch your business without being pushy, and in smooth English.
The idea for this topic came from some work I was doing with a coaching client, Marie. She recently got her visa to set up her photobooth business in Las Vegas, and I’m super proud of her! But we realized that she needed to master the essential skill of pitching. And she would need to do this naturally, casually, in all those small talk conversations that she has with Americans. You too? Here’s how…
Identify opportunities to pitch…everywhere
Where can you pitch your business? Literally in any conversation… if the opportunity arises naturally! I even heard about a friend of the family back in the USA who would take business cards to funerals because, hey… you NEVER know when an opportunity will present itself! At least that’s what he said…
There are lots of subtle opportunities that you may not think about. Like when you’re in line at the grocery store, or talking to other parents at your kid’s school, or having drinks or dinner with new acquaintances. The key is to be able to quickly identify natural, non-pushy pitching opportunities in those small talk conversations.
Pitch naturally and casually
There’s a structure that you can follow when your in a conversation. So we’ll look at the flow of the conversation first, and then we’ll go into more details about the things you can say at each step.
When you get into a small talk conversation, at some point, the discussion will probably get onto the topic of your work. Or, if you recently moved to the USA, the other person might ask where you’re from and why you moved to the USA. In both cases, you have the opportunity to mention the business that you do, just to place the topic in the discussion. But you’re not pitching yet… You’re just talking about what you do, which is a super common small talk topic.
Then, you can casually mention the kind of services you offer, what kind of people you help, or something that you’re looking for to develop your business. This could be a specific type of contact, some information, some advice, anything that will help you to be more successful. And the idea is not to ask them directly “Are you interested in this kind of service?” or “Do you know anyone who could help me?” That would be a bit uncomfortable in a conversation with someone you just met. Instead, think of it like fishing. You throw out a hook and you see if anyone takes the bait.
Exactly what to say
Let’s look at a conversation. My friend Geraldine from Comme Une Française will play the role of the business owner. I’ll be an random American making small talk, as Americans often do. And Geraldine has just opened her spa business in California. And at each step of the conversation, I’ll point out exactly how Geraldine is laying the foundations to casually pitch her business.
Christina: I love your scarf. That’s so pretty!
Geraldine: Oh, thanks. I got it in Paris when I was there for vacation.
Christina: Oh, Paris, how beautiful! I’d love to go there one day!
Here, when I complimented Geraldine’s scarf, she mentioned that she got it in Paris. A perfect way to guide the conversation to talk about where she’s from and why she came to the USA. This is an easy, common small talk topic, and will allow her to talk about her business later.
Geraldine: Oh you should! I’m from there, and it really is a beautiful city! But I like life here in San Francisco too…
Christina: Sure, it’s always nice to have a change of scenery. Do you live here now?
Here, Geraldine is creating the perfect opportunity for me to ask “Why did you move to the USA?” or “Do you live here?” or something similar. Again, we’re moving closer to talking about her business.
Geraldine: Yeah, I moved here last year, to create my spa business in the USA. We use a lot of French spa products, so I can share a part of my culture with the people who come to my spa. But it’s always been my dream to live in California!
And she successfully, naturally dropped a mention of her business and something that makes it unique and attractive. Now, either I will be interested, or not. You never know, but you have to throw out the hook. You might catch a new client!
Christina: Oh wow, that sounds nice! Where’s your spa at?
Geraldine: It’s in Pacific Heights, near Lafayette Park. Let me give you my card. And if you book a massage, tell them that Geraldine sent you. We’ll have a free gift for you!
Christina: Oh wow, thanks! I’ll check out your site and have a look. Thanks so much!
And maybe Geraldine has a new client! Now, you don’t know if the person will truly go to your site and become a client, but at least now they know what you do and how to contact you!
The recap: How to start a business conversation
- Early in the conversation, find a way to mention where you’re from. This guides the conversation towards step #2
- Mention that you came to the USA to create your business. In 1 or 2 sentences, mention what your business activity is, and what makes it special or unique.
- If the other person asks for more details about your business, offer your business card or write your website down for them. “Let me give you my card” is a key phrase here.
- And if you can, offer them an incentive to contact you. This isn’t necessary, but it’s a nice gesture, and gives them a reason to contact you sooner rather than later.
It’s a natural, friendly, and not at all pushy way to help others learn about the great things your business can offer them!
Now, what about you?
What kind of business do you have? Or what job do you do?
In one sentence, what makes it unique, interesting? Give us a mini pitch in the comments!
If you’re a busy professional who needs to level up your fluency, but you find it difficult to do alone, let me help you, with Master Real American English.
It’s a 6-month coaching program that transforms your English with individual lessons, group coaching, conversation practice, and online courses. My team and I empower you to express yourself in English, they way you’ve always dreamed of. For more information, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and put “Tell me about Master Real American English” in the subject line. I’ll send you all the details!
Thank you for learning with Speak English with Christina, and I’ll see you next time!
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