Is the elevator speech an outdated approach to networking? Not a chance. Every professional needs to be able to effectively answer the question, “So, what do you do?” In that short but valuable piece of time you’re given to respond, sparking interest is key. A curious listener will ask further questions, leading to a lengthier conversation that lays the framework for a relationship and possible benefits for your career.
Constructing your pitch
But what should you say during those precious seconds? Some people like to clearly state what they do, while others prefer to draw the audience in with a hook.
The best technique is the one that works for you. Construct a few pitches and try them out. Seeing how others react can help you judge whether you’re being too subtle, too confusing or just plain corny. Remember, the ultimate goal is to generate a thoughtful exchange, so think about being on the receiving end. What would the listener find interesting or useful?
Delivering your speech
Despite the amount of forethought that goes into an elevator pitch, what comes out of your mouth should not sound canned. “I’m not a fan of the finely crafted, meticulously memorized and stiffly delivered elevator speech,” says Patti DeNucci, author of The Intentional Networker. “Introduce yourself and give others a glimpse of what you do naturally and with passion, authenticity and heart.”
While you might tweak your pitch depending on the circumstance and environment, you’ll know when you have the basis of a good one. The confidence that comes from being prepared to engage with others can be as attractive as the words being said, so smile, look your listener in the eyes, and make someone happy to have come into contact with you.