For More Productive Networking, Replace Your Elevator Speech With An Elevator Story
Have you ever found yourself saying, “I’m getting bored with my own elevator speech. I feel like I’m putting everyone to sleep … even me.”
Or, “I want to communicate my value at networking meetings. But I don’t want to sound arrogant and obnoxious when I introduce myself.”
Most elevator speeches focus on delivery of fast facts.
My own introduction to the elevator speech was the Basic Option 1: “You know how stressed-out people get when they are changing careers? Well, I have a three-step system …”
Then there’s the variation, “I work with stressed-out corporate executives who want to find a new career while they’re still employed.”
As a copywriter, I get tempted to add an edge to these openings. We could suggest something like, “I work with corporate executives who are one step away from a career meltdown, but want to stay employed while they … “
Sounds good … almost too good. Good copy is invisible, like good authors of novels. When your audience starts to think, “Wow, that’s really clever!” they stop paying attention to the message.
It’s like watching that commercial where the dog gets a beer from the refrigerator and then we hear lapping sounds. I loved the commercial but couldn’t tell you the brand of beer.
Instead, take another page from the copywriting books and replace your elevator speech with your elevator story.
Tell the right elevator story, and you’ll grab the attention of everyone in the room.
Some time ago I met a money coach who opened with, “I help clients manage their finances. For example, one client was a recently divorced woman who just suffered a devastating financial loss. She was afraid she’d have to declare bankruptcy. Two years later, she’s living in her own home and buying investment property.”
Everyone in hearing distance leaned over to ask her, “Can I have your card?” Either we knew someone like that client … or we were that client.
One of my own stories goes like this:
“One client had a beautiful website. But all his revenue came from face-to-face networking events. We overhauled the website, added an e-course and created a section to showcase his services. Now the website brings in serious inquiries. He’s beginning to close sales after a single phone call.”
Here’s how to create a compelling, lead-generating elevator story.
(1) Use real people and tell the real story. Resist the temptation to invent characters or exaggerate.
Typically your elevator story will include your client as the hero and yourself as the guide.
(2) Incorporate an element of surprise.
The best elevator stories begin with the hero in a really tough position. For a financial consultant, the hero’s credit cards are maxed out, she has little in savings and her situation seems hopeless.
For my clients, they’re losing money because they need a website or sales letter. They’re nervous: their last suppliers disappeared, leaving the job half-done. Or they’re too busy with the rest of their business and they’re feeling overwhelmed.
(3) Cut to the bare-bones information.
“Family, deep in debt, bad credit rating, want to buy a house.” That’s really all you need for the financial planner story.
“Business owner, tight deadline, not clear on message, need to launch a new program.” Those are the ingredients of a story I might share.
Colorful details will be effective when you’ve got a captive audience for a webinar or speech — but even then, keep them to a minimum. Get them involved in your story right away: you just have a few minutes to engage them. They can always ask questions later.
(4) End with a happy outcome for your client, not a sales pitch.
The idea is to get your audience supremely jealous of the people in your story: “I want what they’ve got. How did that woman get out of debt and into her own home? How do I get those results?”
And then they want the same thing for themselves.
(5) Focus on your client, not your origin story (“how I came to be here”) or your rags to riches story (“how I struggled to get here”).
Here are some examples you’ve probably heard yourself:
“I started out teaching school, but realized I couldn’t earn the kind of money I want. So I set up a business and became a professional money manager.”
“I’d just lost my job. I was dead broke and reduced to sleeping on a mattress in a church basement. Then I started investing in real estate. And today I’ve got an empire.”
These stories have their place, as I discuss in my Amazon kindle book, Grow Your Business One Story At A Time. But in the few seconds you’re allowed on an elevator pitch, focus specifically on how you’ve helped your clients.
Originally published at https://cathygoodwin.com on April 16, 2020.