Elevator Pitches – do they work?

Do You Really Know Who You Are?

Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to see several savvy, well-connected speakers talk about a the all-too-often referred to ‘elevator pitch’. Each person left me with a different set of ideas and expectations about the succinctly-orchestrated introduction that we use at least a few times every week.

To say that business is about ‘relationships’ is not an earth shattering, one-of-a-kind insight. We all know by now that in order to build a business from the ground up, we need to be careful to develop meaningful relationships at every level. I like to call this ‘bottoms up’; no matter the persons ‘status’, leaving everyone we meet with a favorable impression is key in building a successful business –  in any field.

So how do you answer the all-to-often asked question “What do you do?” We all know that what we ‘do’ in business does not wholly define us. But the question is used to begin a conversation, to give the other person a chance to say something about themselves that helps the listener gain perspective.

Some of us, including me, cringe at the question because it’s so – well – DONE. Yet we often find ourselves asking it of others in spite of ourselves.

Introductions 101

So imagine yourself in an elevator with another person whom you’ve never met. They are dressed casually, are attractive, and seem deep in thought. Do you bother to interrupt their reflection? If so, what is your purpose?

Greta Muller of C3 in New York City makes a valuable point in her 7-part blog about ‘elevator pitches’.  “Make it your intention to start a conversation, build on a relationship, earn trust, show personality.” Remember, elevator rides are quick – so needs to be your introduction. Say something about yourself that’s interesting, funny, or unusual so that the conversation doesn’t fall flat.

Steve Harper of Ripple Central drives home the importance of relationship maintenance, and completely dismisses the idea of ‘elevator pitching’. Harper believes that allowing people a glimpse into your personal life is the way to begin a business relationship; not the opposite.

Patti DeNucci of Austin wrote an entire book on how to be intentional when meeting new people. She points out that setting out to ‘network’ without a real meaning or plan behind your purpose is a waste of valuable time and connections. Hence, an ‘elevator pitch’ is a good thing to have in your arsenal.

And finally, Carla Thompson of Sharp Skirts, a female-centric organization that helps empower women in business,reminds us to be interesting, even surprising, when meeting prospective clients.

Don’t Be Shy

I know a lot of this seems obvious on its face. There’s nothing new or unusual about the idea of presenting yourself clearly when meeting someone new. However, it’s genuinely something that takes time, thought and practice on our parts, before we make the final dive.  Practice in the mirror, or with your best friend or your cat. Do you have a trick to form the best introduction in 30 seconds or less that you’d be willing to share with our readers? We’d love to hear about it, and about you!

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3 Responses

  1. Great article! And I love the variety of contributions and opinions. Actually, while having some strategies on how to introduce yourself is important, the idea of using a canned, memorized or even overly clever “elevator pitch” can turn people off. I mention this in my book. Definitely be prepared to talk about who you are, what you do, who you benefit, and why you love it. Succinctly and without rambling or telling your entire life story. If you are at an out of town event mention where you are from as well. Try different versions and see how people react. And then, as my good friend Steve Harper says, it’s really what happens in the weeks, months and even years after your initial conversation that matters. It’s over time that relationships blossom and produce fruit.

    • Exactly, Patti. The ‘life story version’ is entirely missing the point. Succint but interesting, relatable, even funny is the way to go! Thanks for your comment and for your book!

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