In business, you are often called upon to give your “30 second elevator pitch” or “30 second commercial” as it is sometimes called. This can be a pretty uncomfortable position to be in. Few people enjoy selling themselves in this way.
Good news! You can learn to position yourself in networking situations (and other business situations) with greater confidence, comfort and effectiveness! By spending some time and energy learning to perfect your pitch, you too can become a more effective and motivated networker.
The Purpose of Your Elevator Pitch
The ultimate purpose of your elevator pitch is to help you start conversations that could lead to valuable new relationships for you. Networking is essentially the art of building and sustaining mutually beneficial relationships before you need them.
It is imperative that you suspend the urge to transact when you network. When I say transaction, I mean asking for a job, selling your products/services or trying to close a deal with the person you’ve just met. You will be short-changing yourself and the other person. There is infinitely greater value in the relationship. The long term value of building a mutually-beneficial relationship dwarfs any immediate sales opportunity that you may be going for. You must look beyond today, this moment, and even this person, to realize the substantial and tangible value of real networking.
To network effectively, you must “Think Relationships (not transactions); Think Conversations (not sales pitches).” This is the overriding key message from my Perfect Your Pitch networking skills training program.
If relationships start in conversation, how do you start more conversations? People want to know a little bit about you. You need to know a little bit about them. This is how you’ll discover if either one of you is interested in developing a relationship with each other (networking, business, employment, friendship, even romantic). Your elevator pitch could therefore be considered a conversation starter. I like to think of your elevator pitch as your networking introduction.
How do you currently introduce yourself?
Most people make the mistake of answering the question “So, what do you do for a living?” with a straight-forward, box-me-in type of answer. “I’m a lawyer.” “I’m a consultant.” “I’m a mortician.” Whatever your occupation, this type of dead-end response will not likely start an interesting conversation.
Some of you might have a prepared elevator pitch – a short introduction of yourself and your company – that you might use at a Chamber of Commerce meeting. The typical elevator pitch sounds more like a name-rank-serial number military response. Again, not much of a incentive to start a conversation.
Others make the mistake of using the elevator pitch opportunity as a sales pitch of all of their products and services. For heaven’s sake, don’t leave anything out, as this might be the very product they were looking for. This approach is long-winded, boring and a real turn off to most people.
Construct your new/improved elevator pitch
Read more about how you can construct your elevator pitch, including templates for a 10-second pitch and a longer, 30-second pitch. article includes examples borrowed with permission from Linda Pulford, Professional Organizer (above image courtesy of Flickr.com – http://www.flickr.com/photos/therefore/18542525/)
You will need different versions of your elevator pitch. It is a dynamic piece of communication that changes depending on the situation and opportunity at hand. You will also need it in different lengths, from a brief 10-seconds, to the longer 30-second elevator pitch. You may be fortunate enough to have 2-3 minutes to pitch yourself (i.e, a job interview or job fair), but be careful: too much time may lead to too much “blah blah blah.”
- Your 10-second elevator pitch should be focused on your value proposition, that is, the value that you create for other people through your work. You want to give enough specific information to intrigue them into asking you “tell me more…” or “how do you do that.” I recommend not getting into too much detail about the “how” you do what you do. Best to stay a little higher level with a compelling statement of value. The best way to understand your value proposition is to ask your clients and colleagues. Ask them “What value did I create for you?” and then follow-up with “What’s so great about that.” When you discover your true value proposition, you will well on your way to marketing yourself and positioning yourself with power!
- Your 30-second elevator pitch. Now you have a little more time. You can use this to increase the relevance of your introduction (that is, what you have in common with the person you are networking with. How can they relate to you?). You can also mention who you are looking to meet, which will increase your chances of getting connected to the right people. And don’t forget to “book end” your name. That is, say it at the beginning and repeat it at the end. People remember the first and last things you say. Make your name memorable.
- Your 60-second elevator pitch. With this extra time, you could perhaps give an example of your value proposition at work. Results garnered for a client that you worked with, for example. Share a bit more about yourself (not just what you do for a living, but who you are as a person). Time yourself delivering your 60-second elevator pitch. If you can finish earlier than that, do it. Less is more.
- Your 2-3 minute elevator pitch. This may be useful to you in a job interview or at a job fair. Consider this an executive summary of you, not your life story or a chronological reading of your resume. (boring!). Think about starting with the phrase “The least you need to know about me is….” Position yourself in how you want to be going forward, not what you’ve been in the past. Focus on intention, not history.
Does your elevator pitch pass the MR ABE test?
Now you that you have a basic working copy of your elevator pitch, it’s time to polish it. This includes both content and delivery. Check out how the MR ABE criteria can help you improve your elevator pitch. Learn how to make your elevator pitch more memorable, relatable, authentic, believable and engaging. This wll allow you to start more conversations and create more mutually-beneficial networking relationships!
What should you do next?
- Practice. Get comfortable saying your elevator pitch by speaking it outloud while you are driving a car, taking a shower, or even looking at yourself in the mirror. Practice until you are comfortable saying it and it feels natural.
- Experiment. Your elevator pitch is not set in stone. You can change it, adapt it to the specific situation and play with new ideas. Get your main point across (your M factor), but don’t be a boring or broken record.
- Get Feedback. Ask people what they remember about what you said. What was compelling to them? What could they relate to? When did they “tune out”?
- Relax. Have some fun with your elevator pitch and enjoy the networking experience. Remember it’s really all about people coming together to get to know each other and to help each other out. Focus on the conversation (not the sales pitch); Build the relationship (suspend the urge to immediately transact!)
Need more help?
For more ideas and tips on how you can better position yourself and get more from your networking, download a copy of our networking skills training programs.
Click through to read about details on each of the networking skills development programs available at our on-line digital download store:
- Perfect Your Pitch
- Motivated Networking Follow-Up (available in audio program or DVD program)
- Top 10 Networking Tips from Kathy McAfee and Mark Shepard
Need more help? Contact Kathy McAfee at (860) 408-0033 or decipher and email her at Kathy(at)MarketingMotivator(dot)net