Goodbye: You-logies, Not Eulogies
Using praise for the recently departed to sell your most important product—yourself!
I’ll never be able to forget the sadness I felt at my aunt’s funeral. It was a very emotional day and, as I delivered the eulogy, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. People came up afterward, shook my hand, and told me how proud my aunt would have been. They meant well, but I took little comfort in their words. How could I? In all those exchanges, not one mourner had asked how I might help grow their business. No one said, “Whatever you’re getting paid now, I’ll double it.” In fact, I left that service without a single new contact. Watching through tears as the grief-stricken friends and relatives drove off, I thought, “I’ve set up lunch meetings at Cipriani with none of them.”
Fortunately, cancer and reckless driving run in my family, so over time, I’ve learned to master the art of networking at memorial services, wakes, graveside ceremonies—and you can, too!
If you think grieving funeral-goers are the last people on earth who’d want to hear you promote your business during a eulogy, you’re absolutely right. That’s why it’s important to make clear from the get-go that you’re actually talking about ways to promote their businesses. Explain that your know-how, experience, and out-of-the-box thinking can be put to use by anyone sitting in the chapel—well, almost anyone (that’s a joke you can use to break the ice). Let them know that if they don’t snatch you up, the person bawling his eyes out a couple of pews back surely will.
So let’s look at a few of the basic requirements for an impactful eulogy, or youlogy:
Be generous with anecdotes: Your audience will be far more responsive to heartwarming recollections than vague platitudes. “I remember summers at Grandpop’s lake house. We’d get up at sunrise and head out on the canoe with a couple of sandwiches. One summer, he turned to me and said, ‘Are there innovative strategies my business can use to maximizeshort-term profits without sacrificing longer-term fiscal goals? Could you please list them for me now and explain why you’re best qualified to implement them?’” for example.
Display promotional merchandise tastefully: You might be tempted to place a tray of branded magnets in the clasped hands of the departed, and in terms of visibility, that would definitely be ideal. But there’s always one person who’s going to take offense, and a single anguished disruption can sour the mood for an entire room of networking prospects. So instead, simply close the casket and arrange your “swag” on its lid. If you brought a small television looping a testimonial video (and you should have), place it there as well. Be sure to mute it, but turn the closed captioning on.
Read something the deceased enjoyed: Reading aloud a poem or other piece of writing the deceased cherished in life is another way to pay tribute. Print a transcript of the work and urge the bereaved to follow along. Then, for the remainder of the service, they’ll be able to flip the page over and peruse your CV as well as some information on how favorably your fee structure compares with that of your competitors.
Don’t overlook visuals: A casket, especially an open one, pulls focus from your pitch, but you can be sure to win back attention with slides, charts, and other visual aides. You want these to “pop,” but try to stick to solemn colors schemes of black and gray or, if absolutely necessary, navy blue. Likewise, avoid clip art that is too “cartoony,” and use a font that is tasteful but still legible and eye-catching to the peripheral friends and relatives in the very back of the room.
Above all, speak from the heart: A prepared eulogy is certainly sufficient, but sometimes it’s those emotional off-script moments that really hit home. If you’re so moved, don’t hesitate to look up from the page and simply say, “I miss you so much, Mom. If you’re up in heaven looking down on me, just know that we all love you and wish you could be here with us right now to join the dozens of talented professionals, entrepreneurs, and other movers-and-shakers following me regularly @networkingpartnersinc.”
By using these simple techniques you can insure that the only ones who’ll be resting in peace are your competitors.