Don't be a Networking Squirrel!
Have you ever stumbled or stuttered when caught off guard and asked: “What do you do?” Do you go to networking events and silently dread your “one minute of fame” when your turn comes around to tell everyone what you do? Today I will outline an easy way to prepare a memorable 1-minute introduction and a 30-second elevator pitch that is unique to you and show you how to deliver it with confidence.
Do you know why we call it an “elevator” pitch? Well, I guess that depends on who you ask. Wikipedia credits former editors of Vanity Fair Micheal Caruso and Ilene Rosenzweig. Here the name reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes.
Other historians beg to differ and suggest the term dates all the way back to 1854 when Elisha Otis, presented the first safety elevator. Prior to this invention elevators had a simple pulley system and “ride at your own risk” was no joke. Elisha accepted an offer to present his invention at the Worlds Fair where he made his “Pitch” to the crowd below as the elevator ascended. When he reached the top he ordered to cut the rope holding it. The elevator fell but was quickly stopped by his new security mechanism. The result? Sales! Today Otis is the world’s leading elevator company.
Why do I need an elevator pitch? Great connections are made face-to-face and are sometimes unplanned. You may find yourself at a chamber event, standing next to the exact person you wanted to talk to, but you have only 30 seconds to start a conversation. A well-crafted elevator pitch will help you know just what to say when you have only a short amount of time to catch the attention of your audience to deliver a winning message. If you craft the perfect elevator pitch, you will never miss another opportunity to tell a potential client, customer or business partner about your business. When properly done, the elevator pitch is a powerful tool that highlights the unique aspects of your business while opening the door for additional communication.
The key to an elevator pitch is length: The pitch should last as long as a typical elevator ride, or about 30-60 seconds. A longer pitch risks losing your audience's attention, while a shorter one may leave out important details. Equally important is content. Your pitch should include intriguing details about your business, paving the way for questions and conversation.
Before we get to the steps in creating this for you let me ask you a serious question.
Are you guilty of being a business card scavenger?
If you have been to any networking events you surely have seen one. This person zips in and out of conversations making their way around the room collecting cards and pushing off their own business card. This is the lowest form of a networker and a professional can spot them a mile away.
You have a million dollar business, don’t be an amateur and wing it. Professionals take the time to plan and practice their presentations whether they be a minute or a full day! The problem with the one-minute presentation is that you are one among many and unless you deliver a presentation filled with interest or impact, you are going to be lost in the minds of the crowd under a flood of other networkers.
There are only one or two people who will be remembered in a group. YOU NEED TO BE ONE OF THEM!!
I have found on average I can take and use about 5 breaths in one minute. If nervous, 5 breaths will be less than a minute. If unprepared 5 breaths will take longer, especially when you start using the popular phrases, “umm”, ahh, and err”. So, if we assume that in one minute we have five statements we can say, how do we break it down to help us plan?
Your one-minute presentation needs to have a beginning, a middle and an end. I know it sounds obvious but you will see so many people who start well, waffle too much, go off topic and end up out of time, and have no ending to their presentation.
Planning will give you the subject for the presentation, but remember, the presentation must focus on one topic. That doesn’t mean you can’t mention you do other services, but it means you don’t dilute your message by losing the topic within a list of products and services. For Example:
“Among our vast membership benefits, one of my favorites is our business exchange where locally owned business members can market their services to our loyal group of customers in exchange for offering a value, service or discount.”
3. This shows you offer a range without having to waste time or filling the
presentation with a list.
4. If you are in a group that meets regularly, people will build up their own
mental list of your services as each week you tell them something new &
So let’s do this. Get out a sheet of paper, write the numbers 1-5 down the left side, spaced about an inch apart. As simple as this is, this is an effective way of planning a one-minute presentation.
Let us look at the sections of the minute. Do you remember the components of a good “story”? A beginning, a middle & an end. If any element is missing your presentation will have less impact. The following is the structure I am going to recommend. I will use one of my own messages as an example of each section.
1. First Breath…. Self-introduction, subject introduction
The first part of the presentation has you introducing yourself, your company and your company’s activities.
“Hi my name is Brenda Ridgley. I work with small businesses and households to earn additional income and save money at the places they are already shopping, on the things they are already buying.”
2. Statement to attract interest or set a problem
This is where you introduce an idea or problem that your audience may not have thought of. You can do this by quoting a statistic, an interesting fact, or just making a statement that makes them think. Get them focusing on the problem and how it could happen to them.
“Did you know that 45 percent of Americans have saved exactly nothing for retirement? —zero, zip, nada”
3. Expand with facts, or explain your solution
This is where you expand and introduce your solution to the problem. This associates you with the problem but also as a solution provider. A positive association with a problem makes it easier for them to recall and refer.
“I believe that this is the biggest problem in the United States today, we spend too much & save too little. Our program has the complete solution.”
4. Recap the capabilities of your product or service
Restate the service you have just spoken of, or recap the problem with the focus on your ability to solve it. This will focus the audience’s minds on you and your ability to help.
“Cut expenses on the things you are already buying, drive new customers to your existing business and create another income stream with our optional referral program.”
5. Ending, call to action, memory hook, your name and company
Finish with a call to action
“Since 1997 Team National has harnessed the power of loyal shoppers across the country to help members save and earn more. Let me share the details. Brenda Ridgley with Team National.”
Now it’s your turn, pencil in an hour on your calendar to craft and practice your own 60-second introduction before your next networking event. When there are large groups often networkers are asked to keep it at 30 seconds. Using the same steps above, remove a little detail or repetition.
Pre & Post Networking mantra:
Before you hit the event, decide what your intro will be and practice it a few times before entering the room.
Smile and listen attentively to other’s introductions. It will be noticed and appreciated.
Follow up with individuals you connected with within 48 hours. Reach out with an email, LinkedIn request or send a text with your virtual business card. There are lots of great business card scanning/virtual business card programs out there. I use Shuffle.
Don’t Meetup hop. Find a few interesting networking groups and make the time investment to frequent those groups for 60-90 days to establish some real connections and let people get to know who you are.
So there you have it. A little time spent now crafting an interesting message will clarify your story and give you the confidence to deliver it stress-free. Once crafted, it can serve you immediately and evolve to the point you will deliver it conversationally, leaving the listeners curious for more.
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