Why you need an Elevator Pitch – and exactly what you should say to build your network

Imagine this.

You’re at a cocktail party.

Or at a family reunion.

Or even a date.

And someone says, “So, what do you do?”

Are you breaking into a cold sweat at just the thought of it?

No worries.

Here’s your guide to talking about yourself and your business without rambling nervously, or worse – being boring.

why elevator pitch is important and what to say

Why is an elevator pitch important and do you really need one?

What is an Elevator Pitch?

The name comes from this situation – imagine you just got onto an elevator. There, in front of you, is your ideal prospect.

Your dream investor.

Your ideal client.

The perfect partner.

The editor of the publication where you’ve been dying to get featured.

What do you say to them in that short elevator ride to get them interested in you and your business?

In other words: an elevator pitch is the simple, concise version of a business pitch.

Why do you need one?

Do you know the first step to creating rewarding relationships?

You need to make people interested in what you have to say.

The principle is the same, whether you’re networking with investors, journalists, bloggers, or potential recruits.

Remember: you’re the best advocate for your business.

Building a connection in person is always more powerful than one that’s built online through your blog or your social media.

The benefits of networking with a prepared pitch

It’s happened to all of us.

The sudden flash of inspiration after talking to a friend.

Finding a life-long mentor at a party.

Meeting your first investor at a meet-up.

The best advice often comes from unexpected sources.

Which is why you need to build a professional network that’s as diverse as it is valuable.

Your network will be a great way to find interesting partnerships and collaborations, and the stronger your network is, the more opportunities you’ll find.

And having a great introduction can help you make the most of brief encounters at parties, networking events—or elevators.

Okay, you’re in.

Now what?

Learn how to tell your story so that people want to keep talking to you

If you’re lucky enough to successfully engage with someone new – maybe even your dream client, ideal investor or a journalist, you only have about a minute to tell them about your product or service.

Research shows that the average attention span of an adult is about eight seconds.

Source: Just Science

Think about that.

Eight seconds. That’s all the time you have to grab someone’s attention.

Most of us take eight seconds just to psych ourselves up to start talking to a stranger.

But if you have an outline ready for your personal pitch, you can tweak it for your audience each time you meet someone new.

So, how do you distill your company—or yourself—into a one-minute speech?

If you’re like most people, the answer is: you can’t.

And you shouldn’t.

Here’s what you do instead – tell your story so that people say: “Wow, tell me more!”

Now that you know how important your introduction is, here’s how you’re going to get it right.

Your guide to crafting a compelling elevator pitch for your business

why an elevator pitch is important and what to say to your network

Know your audience

If you want what you say to resonate with your audience, you need to know what speaks to them.

For example, if you’re reading this article, you’re probably a solopreneur or a small business owner. Or someone who wants to run their own startup.

Which means that the article successfully spoke to you. You need to do the same.

You need to personalize your introduction so that your audience’s eyes will light up in that “A-ha!” moment.

What you’d tell an investor isn’t the same as what you’d tell someone you’re looking to headhunt.

A blogger isn’t interested in hearing about your numbers and your metrics, but an investor might be.

Tailor what you say for your audience. Say what they want to hear.

What’s your ‘why’?

When you’re introducing yourself, the first thing you need to talk about is the why.

Why you started your business.

What’s the purpose that your company is serving?

In other words, why should anyone care about your business?

People want to feel something when you share your idea.

No one wants to hear a long list of credentials or experience. That can come later.

You need to start with the why.

Tell your story. Tell it with passion.

Eliminate jargon

Maybe your company deals with technology. Maybe you’re using the latest in cutting-edge software and shiny gadgets.

But if you meet someone new and immediately start talking about all the technical details, chances are that their eyes will start to glaze over.

Because we tune out jargon.

Imagine hearing this:

Our customer relationship management software uses automation, sales tracking and a contact management module to track an organization’s interactions with its customers, both internal and external, in order to help customers more efficiently.

Have your eyes glazed over yet?

By the time you hear the middle of the sentence, you’d have forgotten the beginning.

Now imagine hearing this:

Our technology helps our customers serve their customers better.

You may feel it’s too simple—but it’s better to be simple and widely understood than precise and passed over.

Don’t needlessly complicate things. Use human-centric language that is accessible and specific. 

When you’re done with the simple explanation, gauge your audience’s response. If they seem eager to hear about the specifics, dive into the details.

Always end with a way to easily follow up

You’ve met someone new and introduced yourself without a hitch. Now what?

Following up after your initial interaction is critical to building a new professional relationship.

At the end of your introduction, ask if you can connect with your new contact on LinkedIn. Or set up a one-on-one meet over coffee.

Better yet, see how you can help your new contact. If you met at a networking event, see if you can introduce them to someone they are interested in meeting.

If they mentioned a new project they’re working on, send them an article or a research report they might enjoy reading.

Take the lead and reach out first to help your new contact. Most people are wired with a reciprocity mentality—they’ll be automatically inclined to help you in return.

Test and tweak

Tailoring your story to fit your audience is key. But how will you know if you got it right?

You need to test it out.

Talk to other entrepreneurs.

Talk to your friends and family—those who can be trusted to give you honest feedback, that is.

Talk to the people you meet at your next cocktail party.

Figure out what engages people from various professions. What interests someone in marketing won’t be what interests an investor, for example.

Keep what works. Junk what doesn’t.

Practice, practice, and practice again

Practice telling your story until you can talk about your business with passion and authenticity.

Master the timing, the tone, and the delivery. You need to get all the information out, but not in a robotic way.

If you don’t shine out from among the words, there’s really no point in telling your story yourself.

You could—and should—probably hire someone else to do it.

Harsh, but true.

Final thoughts

Now that you have these basics under your belt, the next time you run into someone who can take your business to the next level, don’t just stand there—step up and introduce yourself.

Remember: No one else can tell your story like you can.

Are you already using an elevator pitch? Did you have success with it or do you need to start testing and tweaking it? Let me know in the comments and I’ll help you perfect your pitch!

Want to learn how to build an elevator pitch you can use in any situation – in just 15 minutes? Check out my post on crafting a compelling elevator pitch for your business and download the free template!

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