Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Taking Your Elevator Pitch to a New Floor – or Level

We’ve all been in that fun place: at a cocktail party, sitting on an airplane or in the back of a cab and someone asks, “So what do you do?” How do you respond? While this conversation rarely takes place in an elevator, the answer has been described as an ‘elevator pitch’ because ideally it should summarize what you do in the time it would take to ride up in an elevator with someone – about 30 seconds. It should also help to start an interesting conversation.

Unfortunately, the most frequent response is often a bland and generic, “I’m a lawyer” or “I’m an accountant.” Some may jazz it up with, “I’m a tax professional” or “I’m a corporate lawyer.” A real winner I heard once was, “I work in an office.” Wow, I’m on the edge of my seat - please tell me more.

In lieu of a yawn, the general, polite response you will usually get is, “Oh, how nice. My (insert random relative) is a lawyer or accountant.” Following this, they will often excuse themselves to refresh their cocktail (translation: they’re just not that into you and want to disengage because someone - or probably anyone else - across the room must be more interesting).

So how do you craft a good ‘elevator pitch”? Remember, as a general rule, people do business with people they like and trust and who provide value. Start there. Stop pitching and start providing real value. I call this creating your Personal Value Proposition… 

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