Some Networking groups (Breakfast meetings, typically) start with a round robin, with everyone given between 60 and 120 seconds to make what they call their “Elevator Pitch.”
This is fundamentally flawed thinking for two reasons. First, when someone asks the standard question, “What do you do?” they are unlikely to be prepared to listen to such a long answer.
Secondly, the word “pitch” implies asking for business – even before getting to know the other person. And that is unpopular anywhere east of the Atlantic ocean.
The correct term is “Elevator Speech”. It’s a mini (persuasive) speech.
The name derives from the hypothetical situation in which you meet a potential business contact in a lift, and s/he asks you, “What do you do?”
You have as long as it takes for the lift to go from the ground floor to the first floor (15-20 seconds) to say something that prompts the other person to say, “Tell me more.”
Most people reply with a label: I’m a Surveyor / Marketing Manager / Shipping Clerk / Sales Consultant / whatever.
Wrong! And a wasted opportunity. Your job title is unlikely to encourage anyone to say, “Tell me more.”
The other day I went on a discussion forum where an American was guiding his readers in how to construct and deliver an Elevator Speech. He got it badly wrong.
He recommended saying, “People hire me to …” in order to communicate that you are only interested in those who would pay you.
He advised against saying, “I help people to …” because that does not signal the need to pay for your expertise. In his opinion.
My response was to say, “The Elevator Speech needs to follow the rules of selling”, so the model I follow is:
- Establish a need
- Explain the consequence
- Offer a solution
Here’s one of my Elevator Speeches:
- You know how some people are scared stiff of public speaking? (Did you nod?)
- And others make presentations that are really boring? (Did you nod?)
- Which means that they don’t make the impact they would like to make. (Consequence)
- Well, what I do is to help them speak in public without fear, and in a way that makes others want to listen. (Solution)
Try constructing your own Elevator Speech, along those lines. It will help you to focus on your own added value, and what you bring to the table.