Elevator Pitch: How to Write One as Your Networking Commercial
What is an Elevator Pitch?
The term elevator pitch (sometimes referred to as an elevator speech, networking commercial, and, in the business vernacular, as a "60-second") is a very brief sales presentation that tells the seller's story in the time it takes for an elevator ride. Depending on the height of the building and how many stops the car makes, that time could be a few seconds up to a couple minutes. Having this pitch ready can help salespeople and business owners be prepared for chance encounters with prospects that may occur in an elevator at any time.
Networking events usually are not held in an elevator, of course. But the elevator pitch concept to create a networking "commercial" has become a standard used for face-to-face events since 30 to 60 seconds might be about all the time you have to connect with a potential prospect.
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How to Write an Elevator Pitch
While there is no hard and fast formula and there can be myriad variations, an effective elevator pitch will usually be composed of these elements:
- Your name, company (optional, but recommended) and what you do (for example, coach, financial planner, etc.—not president, CEO or some other nondescript title).
- Who you help.
- How you help.
- Call to action.
- Your name, company and title again (although you may wish to just say your name), along with a memorable tagline (optional) at the end.
It really is that simple! But I can't tell you how many elevator pitch fails I've heard over the years where people even forget to say their names.
Note that some networking groups, especially leads groups, may have a specific pitch formula they would like you to use. Use whatever is acceptable for the group.
"So an Elevator Pitch Needs to be 30 to 60 Seconds. How Many Words is That?"
I've taken my estimates on the number of words needed for a pitch from when I had to write some radio commercials many years ago. My rule of thumb was 25 to 30 words for each 15 seconds. Can you talk much faster than that? You sure can! But when you want people to really hear what you're saying, you need to slow it down, emphasizing each word and not sounding like you're running out of breath (and time!).
Prepare multiple versions of your standard elevator pitch so that you're ready to deliver your message no matter what limited time you will be allowed. On the shortest pitch time (usually around 15 seconds), you may only be able to get in your name and a couple of words about what you do. But be ready for that!
Here's a handy reference:
- 60 seconds: 100 to 120 words
- 30 seconds: 50 to 60 words
- 15 seconds: 25 to 30 words
How and When Should You Deliver Your Elevator Pitch?
In many networking groups and events, there will be a designated activity where attendees are given the opportunity to deliver their elevator pitch either to the entire group or to those people seated immediately around them.
Outside one of these formal activities, you would logically and naturally launch into your pitch when someone new asks what you do. Since you may already have shared your name when you introduce yourself to someone new, you would likely abbreviate your pitch to just include the "what you do" and "who you help" segments. In these cases, you might wind up and extend the conversation with something similar to one of the following:
- "Have you ever used a service (or product) like this and what was your experience?"
This option would be used if the person you are talking is an ideal candidate. You'd be surprised at what you might hear. Note that after you hear the answer, you shouldn't launch into a full blown sales pitch! But you would want to invite ideal prospects for a more in-depth conversation outside the event.
- "Is there someone in your network who might be in need of what I have to offer?"
This second option honors the person's network and will encourage him to mentally scan his contacts for a possibility. If the person does have a connection for you, ask for an official introduction, possibly via email or social media. Do NOT contact any potential prospect until it is confirmed that person wants to hear from you. Click here to learn what makes a good referral.
These questions can make these folks dig a little deeper and, we hope, spend a bit more quality time with you.
More Networking Tips
- Business Card Tips for Sales and Networking
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- What Not to Do at Networking Events
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