Have you ever heard an elevator pitch that took your breath away?
Have you ever listened to a 60 second pitch without your eyes glazing over?
By the time you get to the tenth person in the room spouting “I help my clients to xxx … “, are you ready to run away screaming?
I don’t know who decided this ritual was an essential part of business networking but its horrible.
And its also a really bad way to get to know people.
Sure, you might find out what people “do” but that’s only a small part of who they are.
We never do business with someone based just on what they do, we connect on a human level first.
However much you may need the services someone provides, if you don’t like and trust them, you’ll find someone else to buy from.
There’s really no need to turn up to an event and not know who is going to be there. Its so much more effective – and polite – to look people up beforehand and even connect with them on social media. This makes elevator pitches redundant and leaves time to really get to know people.
So what’s the alternative to an elevator pitch?
Pretend you’re talking to a human being rather than a potential buyer.
If someone ask you what you do, say you’d like to get to know them before you answer that question.
Put your focus on them. Find out who they are, not what they do.
There are hundreds of ways to start a conversation but to keep it in the context of a networking event, some of the simplest are:
- What do you love most about what you do?
- What questions about your business do you get asked the most?
- If you weren’t in the business you’re in, which one would you choose?
- What’s the last thing you learned outside of work?
- Do you have a secret talent?
Don’t get into superficial small talk about the weather, dive into some meaty stuff like:
- How did you do it?
- Why did you do it?
- What did you struggle with most?
- What was the most valuable lesson you learned from that?
You’ll be surprised how far a conversation can go when the “yes/no” questions are avoided.
Ditch the pitch
When you put your focus on other people instead of spouting on about yourself, they think you’re pretty special. Being listened to is very powerful.
When people like you first, they’re more interested in what you do, and when you know a bit about them, you don’t need an elevator pitch. You just continue the conversation. And because you’re talking as one human being to another it’s more natural, not the forced, rehearsed, cringe-worthy, eye-glazing recitiation that everybody hates.
Feeling awkward? Be charismatic instead!
Some people panic when they don’t know what to say or how to steer a conversation but when we make ourselves a bit vulnerable we become more likeable. People respond to us more easily.
When someone appears perfect, we distance ourselves from them but if you are genuinely interested in someone else it breaks down a lot of barriers.
Charisma is not so much getting people to like you as getting people to like themselves when you’re around. – Robert Brault
When you ask questions and really listen to the answers you make people feel good about themselves and the knock on effect is that they like you more because of it.
You may never do business with the people you meet like this, but they’re more likely to introduce you to people they know and so your network of people who think you’re pretty special keeps growing.
And no elevator pitch in the world ever had that effect on anybody!
Want to chat about how to have better conversations? I’m all ears :) Get in touch and we’ll pick it up from there!
(Thanks to Martin Shovel for permission to use his cartoon)