So much of today’s success stories are predicated upon successful networking; networking has become so much more than making simple acquaintances or building up a stack of business cards and can mean the difference between landing a job, client or sale.
Successful networking in today’s busy world is all about the elevator pitch: establishing who you are, what you’re doing, and what you’re looking for. By using these 10 steps below, you can tighten your pitch and confidence in any possible networking opportunity.
1. Know Yourself: The elevator pitch isn’t as much about your company or your product as much as it is about yourself, selling yourself as an individual worth knowing and connecting with. This means knowing your strengths and your weaknesses and being prepared to answer and account for any questions posed to you. Note: this is about you, not your pitch.
2. Keep it Simple: Your pitch should answer these three questions: Who you are? What do you do? What can you do for me? The first answer should supply a quick background and give you some credibility but shouldn’t be longer than a sentence or two. The second answer should be about your end results, not how you procure them. This second step will lead you nicely into the third answer, where you are likely to draw them in.
3. Confidence: Confidence is key to a successful elevator pitch. More than the quality of your pitch, the confidence with which it’s delivered will likely be the instigating factor as to whether or not you’ll progress to a second meeting.
4. Posture: Good posture is a subset of strong confidence; maintaining good posture will many times prepare you for confidence. Stall tall with your shoulders back and chest forward, ready to embrace the day with optimism.
5. Eye Contact: Though it may sound simple, eye contact is crucial to good communication and developing meaningful social encounters. No one is going to want to spend time with someone who’s staring at their feet, the ceiling or elsewhere during their pitch.
6. Freshness: Make sure your pitch is up-to-date. The perfect elevator pitch you mastered five years ago might not be the one you want to use today.
7. Preparation: Your pitch should run like a well-oiled machine, not a clunky apparatus knocking as a result of insufficient preparation. Practice your pitch again and again until it stops sounding like a script and instead flows from you naturally and smoothly. The more you’ve practiced your pitch, the more you can relax and focus instead on posture, confidence and other auxiliary tools.
8. Malleability: Many times your pitch will elicit questions or concerns about your company, this is a good thing. Some of these questions might be regarding how your pitch can adapt to the needs of the person you’re pitching. Knowing in advance the areas of your pitch which can be adjusted will help you and your pitch to become more malleable, which can be the difference between winning and losing the moment and the connection.
9. Adjust: Like malleability, adjusting means reading the situation and responding to it. Sometimes this will refer directly to your pitch, sometimes it will be to yourself: your attitude, humor, dialogue. Adjust to the dynamic needs of the situation to make your counterpart feel comfortable and easy.
10. Invite Instead of Close: Most people are going to be put off by an on the spot close from an elevator pitch. This shouldn’t be your goal. Your goal should be for another meeting or further correspondence. Your pitch should hope to open that door to a longer, more engaged opportunity to discuss yourself and your services.
The elevator pitch isn’t easy to master, but these steps should serve as effective tools for developing a confident and comfortable pitch.