Many are familiar with what has become known in Networking lingo as an “Elevator Pitch.” Typically, it’s defined as a description of your product or service that can be communicated in a very brief time (i.e, up to 30 seconds; the time span of an elevator ride).
Although its genesis was in the context of an entrepreneur being asked to pitch their business idea to a venture capitalist in hopes of receiving funding, it has now come to mean something different; that when asked at a business or social event what you do for a living, you should respond with this carefully prepared statement in order to immediately elicit the questioner’s interest in doing business with you.
While indeed there is a time and place for everything, the chances are excellent that right when you first meet someone new — whether at a formal networking event or informal gathering — is not the time. First, the other person probably doesn’t care enough to want to listen. Secondly, they most likely will not appreciate being “pitched.” Doing this — especially right away — will, more often than not, break any possibility of creating rapport.
Actually, one excellent idea is to forever get rid of the word, “pitch.” After all, a pitch isn’t something you do for someone…it’s something you do to someone. Thus, Go-Givers or any successful Networkers don’t pitch. A much better word might be “present” or even “share.” Though, now is not the time for either of those, as well.
There is, of course, a time when it’s totally appropriate to share this information. This is when the relationship has begun to be established and he or she asks you to be explain what you do; either to them directly so that they have a better understanding or to someone to whom they are introducing you. In that case, it is helpful to have what we call a Benefit Statement.
This is a brief statement — typically, between 5-7 seconds — consisting of the benefit(s) one would derive from doing business with you. Unlike an “Elevator Pitch”, a Benefit Statement is “other-focused” (not “I-focused”) and doesn’t come across as…“pitchy.”
Next article, we’ll discuss this further and look at some good examples you can model in crafting your own.
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Thank you, thank you, thank you! I think you have liberated a whole lot of people who are thinking they should (or must) deliver elevator speeches. I can see them now in elevator lobbies everywhere, mustering every ounce of courage to deliver this commercial….too soon! I can almost hear a great sigh of relief. Looking forward to the next article Bob.
Lovely distinction – am I doing it for someone or to someone?
You are such a Giver!
My life is better for knowing you.
The words we choose are so important. Glad you pointed out the drawbacks of creating a “pitch.”
Dondi: Thank YOU! You brought up a point that I forgot about completely. And, that is, not only is that elevator speech intrusive to the other person, but puts the person who thinks they are supposed to/have to give it under a lot of pressure. Instead, when we take the focus of ourselves and and focus on the other person, we are more relaxed, at-ease, and establishing that relationship becomes a much more natural and value-based process. Thank you so much!
Randy: Thank you! Much appreciated!
Maran: Very kind of you! I appreciate that a LOT.
I’ve personally found that many people at a networking event are so focused on delivering their pitch, they have no time to hear what the other person is saying. A 5 second benefit statement liberates them from that burden, allowing people to focus on asking the questions that build relationships instead. Thanks for your insight Bob!
Thanks Bob. I always follow up my 3-5 sec “benefit statement” with asking sincere questions about the other person. Then of course follow up with the “one key question”. Most of us should know what that is, right? “How can I know when someone I’m talking to is a great prospect/contact for you? -or- I like to ask, “Who would you like to meet here at this event tonight?” (in relation to either great strategic alliances or possilbe clients) Location – Location – Location is to Real Estate…what Connecting – Connecting – Connecting is to networking. Yep, Networking is about connecting others, not selling.
Thanks again Bob for being “you”.
Thanks Bob! So often NM get “labeled” because of their pitching- constantly. As a fellow Go-Giver, i have found that most people remember you and the conversation, when they have done most of the talking. I find that Asking Questions about them… is the key to a longer conversation, everytime 🙂 After a brief benefit statement, shift the conversation to being about them!