I was talking recently to a new business acquaintance, Tracy Karbus, about (what else?) networking. She mentioned how she hated going to events where everyone just threw their business cards at each other and there was no real connecting.
Then she asked, “What do you think you should do for a 30-second elevator speech?”
And I cringed. I know, I know – it’s an accepted “fact” of business that you have to have this pithy, enticing quick introduction ready at all times. But I really can’t stand it.
But as I write this, I realize that my distaste is not for the quick introduction itself, but rather that it’s become this one-size fits all verbal equivalent of throwing your business card at someone. No connection, just a pitch.
Here is an example of what the elevator speech has become:
“Hi, I’m Mary Cravets and I am the Speed Networking Maven. I show entrepreneurs how to rocket themselves to the center of their community and network like rockstars. Do you know anyone who wants more business, more exposure and more money?”
Ick. Gimmicky, over the top, and immediately imposing on the other person – a complete stranger – to bring you business. I might as well have just said, “Me, me, me, and oh, yeah, what do you think about me?” Whenever someone asks me a leading question like the one above, I immediately get queasy.
Here is an example of what it could be:
“Hi, I’m Mary Cravets and I teach people how to run networking events that put them center stage in their business community. I heard you mention that you are a lawyer, what is your specialty?”
Do you see the difference? The first approach uses force to push my agenda into a stranger’s face. Not at all appealing, and unlikely to lead to a long-term professional association.
The second approach allows the person room to share, and become curious about me. It lets THEM decide if and when to ask about my business.
And to answer your next question, yes, sometimes people will not get around to asking about you. Keep in mind, most of us have been trained to talk rather than to listen, so be patient with people. If the person you’re talking to doesn’t ask about you, you can either let it go, and get around to your business some other time, or you can segue to your business by saying something like, “I’ll definitely keep you in mind for referrals. Would you mind if I shared what kind of referrals would help my business?”
They will ALWAYS say yes!