There is a lot of chatter and clatter at networking events. Many individuals hold a business card and are ready to shake the hand of someone they hope will ask, “What do you do?” They are eager to deliver their 30-second speech called the elevator pitch.
Nancy Collamer, author of Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement, explains that an elevator pitch describes who you are, what you do, and why you are the perfect choice as an employee, employer, customer, or client.
If you want to stand out among the masses at networking events, you must be brief, creative, and captivating. Self-editing is an art. And it’s not easy.
“If you want me to speak for two minutes, it will take me three weeks of preparation,” said former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. “If you want me to speak for 30 minutes, it will take me a week to prepare. If you want me to speak for an hour, I am ready now.”
If you behave like a hungry shark as you tell others about yourself, what you do, and what you sell, people will ignore you. And who would blame them?
Conversations summon connections. They offer opportunities to build relationships with others. When you talk to others, when your words are an invitation to learn more about other people, you pave the way to highlight the unique aspects of you and your businesses while opening doors for deeper communication. Even if someone does not want or need your business or services. And it’s okay if they don’t.
Christine Clapp, author of Presenting at Work: A Guide to Public Speaking in Professional Contexts, describes essential steps to crafting a quality elevator speech. She explains, “The first impression we make on people is crucial.” She adds, “You should prepare and rehearse your personal introduction to an audience of one with as much care as you would a conference keynote to an audience of a thousand.”
As you create your elevator speech, you must prepare strategically, rehearse thoroughly, ask others for feedback, and revise your material until you are comfortable sharing it with others. Your introduction should be conversational. Christine suggests the following tips as you create a smashing elevator pitch:
Rui Sun, an accountant, tells others, “I take the dread out of April 15.” Video journalist Kendall Payne opens with “I bring news stories to life.” Victoria Harding works with autistic children. She explains, “I help children with social disorders make a best friend.” These intriguing statements stir listeners’ curiosity. Others will ask questions and will be eager to learn more about you.
No one wants to be bored with a list of credentials or technical jargon about your work. Be brief. Christine suggests, “It should be compelling enough to spur conservation.” Remember others may not necessarily need your help, but he or she might know the person who needs your expertise.
“People don’t always remember a name,” explains Christine, “but they can usually recount an interesting narrative. Stories are entertaining and more memorable than lines from a resume.”
“A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue,” insists author Truman Capote. “That’s why there are so few good conversations: due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet.”
You become the intelligent talker Capote describes with meaningful conversation. An effective introduction invites a deeper relationship. When someone intrigues you and expresses interest in your needs, you want to hear more. You want to continue the conversation outside of the elevator.
Questions asked and answered throughout the course of a conversation must show you are genuinely interested in learning more about others. Christine adds, “A memorable elevator speech will help you market yourself and capitalize on opportunities that come your way—whether you’re in an elevator or not!”
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