Forget Your Elevator Pitch- Mentally Block It Out
In Part 2 I discussed the idea of limiting the number of business cards you take to a business networking event to 5. If you made it through the entire post, you should have realized the actual number of cards is subjective. The main take away from Part 2 is to give out fewer cards- look for purposeful exchanges versus handing them out randomly.
Remember, my focus is to work for long-term rewards, not short-term gains. Everything you read in these blog postings, or if you have a chance to hear my ideas in person, is geared towards building long-term relationships.
Forget Your Elevator Pitch- mentally block it out
Elevator pitches are for quick on-the-spot situations where you must get your point, or business, across to your audience in 30 to 60 seconds. In this case your message must be well defined, concise, and to the point. Most importantly whatever you say must also be relevant and interesting to your audience.
Should elevator pitches be banned from business networking events? Not at all. I believe elevator pitches are appropriate for those situations where on-the-spot decisions are needed and warranted.
Again, let me reiterate. My focus is in the area of long-term rewards.
I want you to take a moment to think about 2 trusted groups that exist within your sphere of connections-
First, let me explain what I mean by trusted in connection to both friendships and acquaintances. There are various levels of each. Here I am referring to those you are willing to stake your reputation on the line for when making a referral or recommendation.
Within both groups, how many people did you actually start the relationship based on an elevator pitch?
The main thing I encourage people to focus on at business networking events is to engage in meaningful conversations with others.
What exactly is a meaningful conversation anyway? Can’t someone pitch their business idea and quickly talk about what they are seeking (elevator pitch) and then use that to start a meaningful conversation? Well, not exactly, unless you consider just talking about yourself to constitute a meaningful conversation between two or more people.
Meaningful engaging conversations will explore bits and pieces about each person taking part in the conversation. In Part 5 I actually go further in depth on how to prepare discovery questions ahead of time. Right now the main thing I want you to focus on is the idea that there is more to an initial conversation than giving your elevator pitch.
Long-term rewards related to business networking events are probably going to come out of relationships you built or strengthened at and after these events. Establishing relationships at business networking events will require an initial interaction that leaves both parties satisfied and wanting more.
People need to feel that you are listening to them. If you have ever stopped talking (and thinking!) during a conversation and just listened to the other person, you should have noticed that the other person actually starts to talk more. At this point your body language is communicating that you are intently listening, and most importantly that you care. So, what does the other person do? They start to open up more and share more!
Ok, hopefully, you see where I am going with this. By engaging the other person in more meaningful and deeper conversation, the door slowly starts to open for true bonding to occur.
Before my critics start to roar too loud, by suggesting you ditch the elevator pitch I did NOT tell you not to talk about your job, industry, or company. Coaching you on how to hold engaging and meaningful conversations is well beyond this blog post, so I will not even go there now. However, YES, you should definitely reference what you do and such. However, do so within the context of the situation.
Here I must give you permission to make a big decision. If you can tell this new deeper conversation is just not going to go anywhere, or that there just isn’t going to be a bond with this person, then it is perfectly find to politely excuse yourself from the conversation and walk away. This will be further explored in Part 7, where I actually encourage you to walk away from non-performing conversations.
So, what is the main take away here? Stop using the elevator pitch to start conversations and especially stop using it to artificially build a connection with the other person. Should you actually forget your elevator pitch? Probably not. However, you will probably want to pull back and only let it loose when it is obvious the situation is getting to that point.
Hopefully, you will have started to build a lasting bond and relationship before you even have to give your elevator pitch.
Below is the list pending topics for this series.
Part 4: Memorize your name- seriously!
Part 5: Prepare 2 to 3 discovery questions- use these to ‘listen’
Part 6: Plan on only speaking to 5 people- hold meaningful conversations
Part 7: Excuse yourself from shallow conversations- they are wasting your time
Part 8: Wrap-Up
Until our paths cross again,