I belong to a couple of different groups on LinkedIn, and every once and a while a discussion will pop up asking people to describe what they do in five words or less. While this isn’t always an easy task, it is interesting to read some of the responses. Sadly, most of them aren’t memorable and I have no desire to learn more about the person. But occasionally, one will pop up that makes my eyes dwell on the words for longer than normal and want to know more about the person or business.
In face-to-face networking, this is similar to hearing a person’s elevator speech, or elevator pitch, which is basically your way of starting a conversation and hopefully opening up doors by sharing what you have to offer in 30 seconds or less. Admittedly, some people stand out with their pitches and make you want to ask question after question, and others become somebody you just met who you can’t even recall their name. How do you make sure you are the former, whether you are speaking to a future customer, an esteemed colleague you’d like to do business with, or a potential investor?
Talk About What You Do
When someone asks what you do, how do you respond? Do you say “I own a home alarm company” or “I own a chain of hair salons”? If so, you may be missing out on the opportunity to gain the person’s attention in a way that is truly memorable.
Instead of sharing your job title or position, talk about what it is you do. For instance, sticking with the previous two examples, your response may be more along the lines of “I protect people’s assets” or “I make women look beautiful.” See how these may make you stop in your tracks and want to know more?
Think about what it is your business does for other people. How can you sum that up in a sentence or two? Most importantly, how can you state it in a way that entices others to want to learn more about the specific ways you do whatever it is you do?
Don’t Try to Sell Yourself
The more you try to convince the person you’re speaking to that they should want to be your customer, business partner, or investor, the more you will give off the vibe that you are more concerned with making your life great than you are with making their life great. Not that it isn’t good to want more for yourself, but if you’re trying to get someone else to do business with you in some capacity, they are going to want to know what is in it for them as opposed to what is in it for you.
So, focus more on being genuine when sharing what it is you do rather than trying to make a sale or force a connection. This kind of goes back to the three keys to successfully marketing yourself which Bill Carmody, a marketer with 20+ years of marketing experience points out in his article titled 3 Little Known Sales Secrets are to get people to know, like, and trust you. You have a greater chance of this happening if it isn’t all just about you and what you stand to gain from them.
Ever speak to someone and know right away that they really don’t like what they do for a living? It’s kind of a turnoff right? Well, this is especially true when it comes to delivering a winning elevator speech. It’s pretty difficult to make others excited about you and your business if you aren’t excited about it yourself.
Certainly, you don’t want to fake your passion if you’re not feeling it, as the person you are speaking with will probably see right through it. However, if you’re no longer interested in your profession, that is a whole other topic completely and one that should make you want to dig deeper and find out why. On the other hand, if you are still excited about your work, then this is a great time to share it. Maybe not in a bouncing-off-the walls kind of way, but in a way that makes the other person passionate and excited too.
Use Plain Language
The federal government is even jumping on board with this concept, as they have a whole website dedicated to the topic: PlainLanguage.gov. Essentially, the goal of using plain language is to help the person that you are communicating with understand you clearly and concisely. This means that they are paying more attention to what you are saying as opposed to letting their mind drift off because you are speaking over their head.
For instance, one of the recommendations is to “replace complex words with simple ones.” When I was in law enforcement, I always joked that I was a behavioral modification specialist. Although I didn’t always want people to know what I did for a living, depending on who I was talking to, it usually took them a minute to think about and realize what I had said. That’s not exactly the response you want when delivering your elevator pitch.
Hopefully these tips help you perfect your elevator speech in a way that creates memorable and lasting connections for you.