I recently posted on LinkedIn in response to another member’s call for help on his “elevator speech”. If you haven’t run into this quaint mnemonic, an elevator speech is a pre-planned, summary of who you are and what you want. It comes from the imagined situation wherein one is in the elevator with somebody you want to talk to. A new customer/client/member of the public who asks you to tell them about yourself. You have the length of the elevator ride (about 30 seconds to two minutes, depending on the situation) to make your pitch.
Elevator speeches are often used at networking events, where you’re meeting new people, introducing yourself to a potential investor, or trying to meet the people who will introduce you to the people you really want to meet. Whether you’re interviewing for a job, at a cocktail party, or trying to find new clients for your business, it’s a good tool to have in your tool-box.
I’ve networked intensely for eight months now, and this is my advice:
- Communication is about the listener. Try focusing on what your audience wants to know, not what you want them to know. How can you help them, and how can they help you. Make it easy for them by getting to your point quickly. You’ve actually got about the first 10 seconds to convince the listener that they should keep listening, before they move on mentally.
- Be specific. For example “I’m looking for a quality control job, and I’m want to talk to Jennifer Smith at Microsoft in Redmond about working there. I’m looking to find somebody that can introduce me to her.” Be that specific. The more specific you are, the easier it is to get what you want. It helps your audience decide quickly exactly how they can help you. No, they probably don’t know Jennifer, but they might know somebody who works at Microsoft in Seattle, or who lives in Redmond, or who’s first cousin once removed used to work in quality control at Microsoft. If the person or people you’re talking to can help you (or you them), then establishing your bona fides will happen in any following conversation.
- When you’re listening to somebody else’s elevator speech, focus on them. Think about how you can help them. It’s amazing how much more helpful others are once you’ve helped them, even in the smallest of ways. At least it makes you more memorable. I’ve had people call me up months later with a lead because I stayed focused and was supportive of them, not thinking about what I was going to say when it was my turn.
- Practise in front of your web-cam, or your mirror if you want to do it the old-fashioned way. Seriously. It’s a little thing, but you’ll come across much more relaxed and confident if you’re not worried about what you look like or what you want to say. You already know, so now focus on your audience instead. It make a much more powerful connection.