As a newcomer to a networking group last week, I was reminded how important it is to be able answer the question “so what do you do…?” concisely and in a way that both grabs attention and leaves a lasting impression.
Many of the attendees at my recent meeting were lucid and confident, but others I spoke with were only ever going to make a dreary and easily forgettable impact on their peers.
If you haven’t got a captivating case for what you do, and (more importantly) a compelling reason for why you do it, then why on earth would anyone believe you’re worth doing business with?
So, if your career means you regularly meet new people – and whose doesn’t? – then it’s critical to be able to create and present a personal 30-second commercial, often called an “elevator pitch” in the States.
It’s the basis of personal networking, self-promotion, and pretty much everything else you need to stand out from the crowd in an over-crowded world.
Here are my top 10 tips for making that first impression –
1: Talk benefits, not just features. “I’m a lawyer who makes sure people don’t get ripped off in property deals” rather than just saying you’re a property lawyer.
2: Be conversational and confident. Don’t hesitate, fidget or blather, and always present with a smile and a twinkle in your eye.
3: Don’t use jargon and particularly not industry-specific acronyms (OMG!)
4: Boast a little. It’s ok to start a sentence with “My key strengths are…”
5: Fulfil a need. Reminding the listener that you’re a qualified Zeppelin commander marks you as quirky and interesting, but a little redundant.
6: Tailor to your audience. Investors want to hear how they can get returns, customers how you can solve their problems, and potential partners why you’re going to be a success together.
7: Use power adjectives such as “astounding” and “spectacular” over mundane words like “ok” and “good”.
8: Be prepared for follow-ups. If you’ve been convincing and engaging up to now, you’ll get questions. Rehearse the answers to any likely comebacks.
9: Review and revise regularly based on feedback. Conversely, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
10: Test your commercial on a 7-year old first. If they don’t understand every word of it, you’ll lose half your target audience before you get a chance to finish!
HALF HOUR OF POWER!
To help you find your own ELEVATOR PITCH, here’s a special treat for my loyal readers. If you send me an email telling me how you’d benefit from a half-hour’s business mentoring by me, I’ll do it FREE, wherever you are in the world, via Skype or ‘phone at a time to suit us both. firstname.lastname@example.org