In school, we were taught that learning to speak in front of a crowd was accomplished through memorization. Some memorized the whole speech; some could memorize the bullets and elaborate from there. Many of us can talk to people or get up on a podium and give a speech that we’ve rehearsed, but being able to come up with things off the top of your head to engage conversation can be difficult. Difficult as it may be, it’s vital to branding yourself. Not everyone has the gift of gab. Many of those that do, carry it way too far and become overwhelming, which is not good. Whether on stage or just talking to anglers at shows, get comfortable presenting yourself to people, engaging them in quality conversation. In just a few seconds, you want to leave other anglers with the impression that you are a “good guy/gal”. Not that you’re the world’s best angler, but that you’re someone that they could enjoy talking too when there is more time. When speaking with a company representative, you want to leave them with basically the same impression with a little added emphasis on who you are.
The first weekend series tournament I fished was on Lake Palestine in East Texas. I didn’t fair to well and brought in a small limit. I didn’t expect much to happen other than walk across the stage, dump my fish on the scale and move on. The Tournament Director knew that Laurie (my wife) and I owned Ultimate Bass. Laurie had been at the weigh-in host marina since about 1 PM, just hanging out waiting for the weigh-in to start (another way to promote yourself that we’ll talk about in a different article). She had been talking with the staff of the organization and spent some time getting to know the tournament director.
Back to the stage. When I came up on stage, the tournament director grabbed my bass, put them on the scale, while saying, “We are lucky today; we have Mike Cork representing Ultimate Bass fishing with us today. Mike why don’t you tell the crowd what Ultimate Bass is all about”, and handed me the microphone. Well to say I was caught off guard would be an understatement. Since my promotions manager (Laurie) had been there already, she set me up and forgot to mention it. However, since I eat, sleep, and breathe, Ultimate Bass I was able to spit out a few things about the site, who we are, where we’re from and what we hope to accomplish. The who, what, where, when, and why’s of the question.
More often than not, this time tested and proven set of questions can make you look like a hero to your sponsors. Use every opportunity to explain the who, what, where, when, and why. Before you have sponsors, use this formula to introduce yourself on stage or when introduced to a figure head of an organization. If you can quickly sell yourself in 20 seconds, potential sponsors will think, “that angler could sell our product.” In the beginning, this might be something that you write down and rehearse. I’m not saying that when you’re handed the microphone that you pull out a note pad and read from it; however, to know what you want to say can prevent the dead air space between you and the audience. The biggest thing is to keep it short. You only have a few seconds; quickly get to the meat of what you want to say. If for some reason you’ve been given more time than your prepared presentation, quickly change directions. In this case, I was able to ask the tournament director, “Did I win?” Knowing full well I didn’t come close, but I got a chuckle out of the crowd and left a lasting impression and handed the microphone back to the tournament director.
When engaging other anglers, a bad day is no excuse. If you cannot change the way you feel about your day and put a bright spin on it, don’t go to shows, don’t put yourself in a situation to be engaged. It will come across no matter how well you think you’re covering it up. A bad tournament is the perfect example. We’ve all seen the anglers that come across the stage and just want to rant and rave about the guy that cut him off, the anglers that hole jumped him, or the boat problems they had. These are excuses, and no one wants to hear them. The professionals of the sport that have bad days on the water will simply tell you that they didn’t connect, or they didn’t get the bites needed to do better. They don’t build excuses. Before you put yourself in the public, either shake off every bit of “bad influence” and go to a happy place, or find a way to take responsibility for the day. It will go a lot further with your audience.
Right place right time is tough to do. It usually is beyond our control, but when it happens, be ready to take advantage of it. Many pros will tell you that some of their sponsors were a matter of the right place at the right time. Justin Lucas, FLW Tour pro for the National Guard, once told me in an interview, “I am blessed to be able to fish for the National Guard. I happened to be in the right circle of anglers after a tournament weigh-in, when a representative from the National Guard came up and introduced himself. I had a few seconds introduced myself and my goals.” Justin told me that it was only days later that he received a call wanting more in depth information about himself and the next season he was on the National Guard Team.
When opportunities arise, you can’t get over bearing or pushy. However, in the same note, being able to impress a CEO, president, or representative of a company that you were just introduced to in a matter of seconds can go a long way. You might get 10 seconds with Gary Yamamoto; you don’t want to be like the other thousands of anglers that stutter because they just met a legend. You want to be the guy that Mr. Yamamoto later asks, “who took ‘that-guy’s’ business card?”
In closing I’d like to mention after that tournament on Palestine, I had 4 different anglers come up to me and ask about Ultimate Bass, two anglers ask about my power poles, and two anglers want to know more about Legend Boats. Being prepared for life’s opportunities goes a long way in promoting yourself and your sponsors.
Take the time now to be prepared, and know what you want to say to potential sponsors. Know what you need to say to promote yourself. Whether to a CEO or a casual angler, promoting yourself is advertising, not only for you but for future sponsors as well.
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