We’ve talked about the importance of networking as the best way to land a new job or cultivate new clients for your business. Contacts are the key, especially in a tight economy. Sometimes, these are arranged business meetings or professional groups. Other times, they are random sightings – in the grocery store or at a dinner party. But, however you run into that person – do you know what you are going to say? You have an opportunity to say something quickly about yourself or your business and you want them to remember it. This is the time for your “elevator pitch”.
An elevator pitch is a clear, concise, understandable statement about your self or your business. Depending on the situation, it might be a one or two sentence statement, such as
“I am an attorney and mediator and I specialize in employment related matters. I recently joined with a partner, and we now handle divorce as well.”
If you have more time at a business lunch, you might provide additional information. For example
“I own a bakery/dessert shop that specialized in cupcakes. We recently started offering children’s birthday parties where kids can make and decorate their own cupcakes with over 20 different toppings. We are very busy with the parties and are looking to expand into offering at-home cupcake parties. In addition, we are looking to open a new location in the city.”
In either case, you first have to decide what you want to tell people. Whether it is looking for a new job, expanding your brand, launching a new venture, or promoting your current business – you need to be clear on what you want to accomplish. Take into account who you are talking to and tweak your pitch. You might tell an entrepreneur how you helped someone grow their business, but you might tell an acquaintance who you run into at the bookstore about a new workshop you are running. Who is your audience, and what is most important for them to know?
In addition, you should use words that laypeople can understand. If you tell people at a cocktail party that you are a scientist developing high temperature superconductors for fault current limiters, most people do not understand what that means, and therefore cannot refer you business or contacts. However, they will understand that you are a scientist developing a market for new energy technologies, and will ask for more details if they are interested.
Finally, your elevator pitch should let people know what they can do for you (send new clients your way, provide contacts in a particular field, suggest venues for you to market your particular product, etc). For example,
I own a skin care company and help people with all their skin care issues, acne, age spots, Botox – please send all your teenagers with acne my way!”
An elevator pitch is an essential marketing tool because you never know who you are going to meet, what that person’s interests are, and who they can connect you with. Be prepared!!