A great elevator pitch is a key part of successful networking. Here is the brutal truth…
No matter how great your products and services are, no one wants to sit around and twiddle their thumbs while you stammer through a long, drawn out speech that may, or may not, properly explain this “greatness”.
If you can’t create interest in 20-30 seconds (the length of a short elevator ride) you are probably doomed. Hence the idea of the elevator pitch.
The elevator pitch is a very brief, persuasive speech that creates interest in your idea, your company, your products – or in yourself.
Generally speaking, a great elevator pitch is a key part of effective networking and an important business tool to have at your disposable. You never know when there may be an opportunity to promote yourself. Having an elevator pitch means that you are always ready.
Really Think About What You Do
Creating a truly great elevator pitch is not easy. It can be challenging to capture the essence of your “greatness” in only 2-3 sentences.
Start by really thinking about what you do. Write down your thoughts so you can visually see the full collection of words. Now start cutting away at them.
Knowing what you do and being able to describe it in clear, simple terms is the first step towards crafting a great elevator pitch.
On business cards I describe my company as “Digital Content Specialists”. In some circles, this is enough of a descriptor. In other situations, I may be speaking with people who don’t fully understand what that title means.
I can simplify things even further by saying:
“We help clients plan, create and manage their online content.”
How Do You Help People?
Once you are able to describe what you do in a sentence, it is time to add the persuasive part of the pitch.
What makes your product or service valuable? How are you unique or better than your competitors? What problem do you solve?
When pondering this part the pitch, focus on how you can help the customer or client.
In the words of famous salesperson and motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar:
I like to use the word “help” to kick off the persuasive statement:
“We help clients succeed at online marketing and grow their brand, by making sure they have consistently great content on every platform. “
See the difference? I have moved from simply encapsulating what my company does (“plan, create and manage online content”) to describing why you would want us to do it. (“succeed online”, “grow your brand”, “have great content”).
Because I have this down to two sentences, I can add in another value proposition. This lets me be more audience-specific.
For example, if I am talking with someone who represents a smaller company or start up, I would probably add:
“And we train staff so online content can be managed strategically, in-house.”
Knowing the challenges faced by these groups, this additional sentence adds value by solving a common problem – lack of in-house capabilities.
Develop Multiple Versions
You need to develop multiple versions of your pitch. The language and the value statements should always match your audience.
For example, when I am in a room full of marketing people and everyone knows what a “digital content specialist” is, I leave that title in my pitch and adjust my value statement accordingly.
Don’t “Pitch and Run”
Perhaps most importantly, don’t just “pitch and run”. The purpose of networking is to connect with people. Those connections cannot happen unless both parties have an equal opportunity to speak.
A great elevator pitch is important but it is equally (or more) valuable to learn about the person you are speaking with.
Ask them about their business and genuinely listen to them. The more you learn about the other person, the more likely you are to uncover possible connections between their organization and yours.
After the event, reach out to your new connections. Send a polite email telling them how much you enjoyed the conversation. Where there may be potential for new business or for collaboration, request a follow up conversation.
At a minimum, you should send them an invitation to join you on LinkedIn.
Being able to make a great elevator pitch is a skill. And, like any other skill, it needs to be honed over time.
Keep at it. Make tweaks and changes until it is smooth and effective, and feels natural to you.
And listen when other people are making a pitch. You can lear ALOT about what to say (and what not to say) by listening to others!