In order to achieve anything at all, you need to be able to command attention. The ability to grow is wholly dependent on the ability to quickly grad the attention of others. That is the purpose of the elevator pitch.
Your 30 second elevator pitch will be what makes the difference between you making it and you getting outpaced by all of your competitors.
This brief 30 second story is essential for you, no matter what your niche is. If you think you don’t need an elevator pitch, you’re wrong. Every single person on this planet needs an elevator pitch.
Whether you are attending a networking event, a job fair, a job interview, a party, or are literally in an elevator with a high-level VC, you need to have your elevator pitch down pat.
The elevator pitch is your story. It is important to craft a narrative that you are living out in real time. A qualified past that has made you who you are today, a compelling and optimistic future that you intend to spin into a reality every single day, and the present that bridges these two aspects together.
Your elevator pitch should be made with this story in mind. The future (with a fundamental problem solved) presented to the other party with a past that presents you as the solution to that problem.
Here are the 5 reasons why this story is so important:
It Resolves Confusion
Your elevator pitch tells the world who you are. That includes you. Navigating life in the 21st century can be confusing and overwhelming. Sometimes, when we’re sitting and catching our breath during this century long marathon, we think to ourselves “How did I get here?”
Putting some thought into where you came from, where you’re going, and how you intend to get there by providing solutions to others really puts things into perspective. Not only is the elevator pitch a crucial tool for making connections with others, but it’s also useful in that it helps to add some stability to your own life. Consciously coming up with a narrative and living it out in real time can be therapeutic.
You Earn a 2nd Conversation
The number of scenarios where your elevator pitch comes in handy is infinite. Parties, weddings, waiting in line for coffee, college admissions interviews, etc. But there is something all elevator pitch occasions have in common: the goal to earn a second conversation.
Elevator pitches aren’t for major closes. The purpose of the elevator pitch is to land a job on the spot or get a 7-figure investment for your new startup right there. The purpose of the elevator pitch is to earn that second conversation. It’s a networking tool.
It takes many touchpoints to close someone on something, and the bigger the proposition the more touchpoints you need. The elevator pitch is simply the first touchpoint, it gets your foot in the door so that you have a new node in your network.
When you’re chatting it up with the guy in the elevator after practicing your pitch forever, don’t think of the pitch as a commercial sales opportunity. Think of it as a casual conversation. You’re not earning the promotion (yet), you’re earning a friend.
Your Name Gets Remembered
The biggest hurdle in networking is getting your name remembered. Once you get your name remembered, everything else comes easier. When you’re talking to dozens of people every day (most of them strangers) and seeing hundreds of faces every week, everything sort of blends together.
Personally, names are my bottleneck. I forget them chronically, not because I don’t care about the people I talk to, but simply because there’s so many people! But if your elevator pitch is impactful enough, you’ll earn the coveted name recognition, so that when you happen upon this individual at the next party, they’ll recognize you and go “Hey Joe!” – and when that happens you have won.
When you’re talking to somebody and they use your name, it’s a sign of rapport and friendship. When you’re remembered and they run into the problem that you’re solving, the first thing they’ll do is go “Hey, Joe said he can help me with that. Let me shoot him a text.”
You Make a Dozen Simultaneous Introductions
People talk to each other. The added benefit of making an introduction with one person is that you’ll be making an introduction with all of the other people they talk to.
If your elevator pitch goes over how you’re the leaky roof guy, the next time one of your contacts’ friends has a leaky roof he’ll go “Oh! I know a leaky roof guy, let me give you his number!”
This network effect is what can make the elevator pitch so incredibly powerful. If you were simply connecting up with one person every time you make your elevator pitch, it would take a pretty long time to build out a substantial network this way. But in reality your elevator pitch grows your network exponentially, as your contact’s contacts become yours almost like a web spreading out.
Like I said earlier, the point of the elevator pitch is to make a friend. You can close them or hard sell them later, but for now the point is to build rapport.
Show me your network and I can show you your net worth. Friends are a currency more valuable than the dollar. Use a practiced elevator pitch to make friends at every opportunity and you’ll find more success than you can handle.
Have you ever gone to a networking event or a party and you have a guy that you’ve never met before pitching you on an a business venture or trying to get you to invest into his startup? Did you find it charming or pleasant? Not likely, you probably found it annoying and tried to make your way out of that conversation immediately.
This guy was not using the elevator pitch correctly – at its most useful the elevator pitch is a way to make friends, so craft yours with that in mind. Use jokes, interesting facts, and keep the other guy in mind. Don’t write it based on what you find interesting. Assume the viewpoint of the guy in the elevator with you and write it based on what HE would find interesting.
An easy way to establish rapport with people is through providing value. When making connections via elevator pitch, it’s a lot harder to when you’re asking them for something versus offering them something of value.
The easiest way to do this is with a blog on your own personal website.
Enhance your elevator pitch with a personal blog so that you can provide value to anyone you meet.
Almost all elevator pitches will follow a very similar structure, differentiating slightly depending on the context. Here is an approximation of that structure.
The Quick Elevator Pitch Playbook:
Introduction Yourself (with a Compelling hook)
This is that crucial first 8 seconds, where you need to get them invested in your story or you lose them. Depending on how close you are with the other end, your introduction will be a mixture of hook and a personal “Hi, my name is…”.
A complete stranger won’t care what your name is. Approaching a complete stranger on the street, extending your hand and going “Hello! I’m Joe!” will just have them go “So?”.
But, if you’re leaving work and you pass by a coworker you see all the time but haven’t formally met, it would be more than appropriate to go “Hey, I’ve seen you around the office and haven’t gotten the chance to introduce myself. I’m Joe.”
For introductions with those you are less familiar with, think like a copywriter. Incorporate hooks that would get you to open an email or to read through to the end of a newsletter.
Here are some examples of hooks you can use:
- A fascinating statistic
- A relevant question
- A relevant joke
- Point out something you had in common – “You’re wearing a UCI shirt, I graduated from there 7 years ago!”
“I do” Statement
In one sentence, simply state what you do.
“I’m a roofer.”
“I’m a B2B SaaS founder.”
Very quick, succinct explanation of what you do. For entrepreneurs it’s a bit hard to briefly say in one sentence what you do, so it’s helpful to break out the notebook and write out what it is that you do and then simplify that until you have a brief, simple, easy to understand sentence.
At this point, you can slip in a mention of your personal blog/website so that they can get a better understanding of who you are.
Your personal website can act as a supercharged version of your resume or LinkedIn profile, except you have full creative control to demonstrate exactly who you are.
Without your own site in your networking toolbox, you’re missing out on a powerful networking asset.
Enhance your networking power with our done for you, personal blog, with hands on support and world class training.
Smoothly flow into the problem associated with what do. Every single occupation is involved with the resolution of problems for others.
“Have you ever dealt with a leaky roof?”
“Most small businesses struggle with onboarding new staff members.”
Emphasize just how irritating that problem is to the other end, coaxing them to look for the solution.
“Most people don’t even know they have a leaky roof until a bad storm, but by then it’s too late!”
“The worst feeling is having a startup grow so fast you have to actually TURN DOWN opportunities because your staff isn’t growing fast enough. “
Now that you’ve said what you do, presented a problem that you work on everyday, and agitated that problem, it’s time to present the solution.
“I offer free roof inspections so you won’t have to deal with a leaky roof the next time it pours.”
“We help businesses sustainably grow their workforce so that founders can prioritize scaling and not on Indeed postings.”
Present a unique value proposition that supports your solution claim and compels a consideration of what you offer.
“We’re the only roofing company in the state that does this for free.”
“We’ve helped over 3,000 startups hire over 20,000 new employees.”
This is your call to action. Remember, this interaction is the first of many and not the close. The ask isn’t something like “I’d like to get an interview at your company” or to get them to break out a checkbook right there in front of you. The call to action is a future interaction. It’s a coffee chat, or a LinkedIn connection, or to visit your personal website and get them into the top of your funnel.
Provide value in your CTA. You’re still somewhat of a stranger, but your foot’s in the door. In asking for your second interaction, incentivize them with some value from your end. Offer to buy them a cup of coffee, or to make an introduction for someone they may like to meet, to be a guest on your podcast and get free exposure, or to check out a blog post of yours on the site we built for you to get the solution to a problem that’s been ruining them.
“Check out joetheroofer.com, we have a quiz that can help you figure out if your roof may need fixing.”
“Here’s my card, give me a call, I’d like to buy you a cup of coffee next week.”
- Grab attention up front. A study from Microsoft found that the modern attention span is 8 seconds, so that’s all the time you have to get somebody else hooked on your story. Use those 8 seconds wisely.
- Ideally, practice it in front of someone else but don’t be afraid to read your elevator pitch aloud to yourself.
- Keep it short. The ideal elevator pitch is 30 seconds.
- Use stats. Surprising or interesting statistics are excellent ways to grab attention.
- Make it interactive. Craft your elevator pitch so that it can flow like a casual conversation, not like an infomercial.
- Use jokes.
- Tell it like a story. Our minds are narrative based, we love stories. Tell your pitch like a story and they’ll be clamoring to save your number and chat later.
- Write it.
- Have multiple pitches for different audiences. An elevator pitch for a career fair will not be the same as an elevator pitch for a wedding. Remember that elevator pitches don’t have to all be commercial, many people use elevator pitches as easy ways to introduce themselves to new friends with no business intentions whatsoever.
- Know when to listen. The other person many have questions or their own two cents to give, if they’re trying to get it, let them! Communication is a two way flow and if you can encourage conversation over lecture, then the pitch will go smoother. Nobody likes to be talked at, they liked to be talked to.
- Stay on topic, don’t ramble.
- Build a personal website that is essentially just firstnamelastname.com. It commands authority, makes you stand out, and gives you creative control over your brand and your PR. We can help you with that.
Depending on the circumstances, there are dozens of ways you can craft a persuasive, charismatic elevator pitch. You don’t have to stay within the lines for something like this, creativity reigns when it comes to your elevator pitch.
Whenever you feel lost or you’re stuck with your pitch, refer to this guide. And while you’re at it, get access to your very own website, made by our talented team of developers, personalized for you.
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