Does your elevator speech go to the top? Think about it

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A perfect elevator speech should compel the receiver to ask a meaningful question back.

It should be interesting, and it should state what the person does and give enough information to weed out people who have no interest in what you do.

The goal of an effective elevator speech is to convince people who may be able to work with you to become interested in you, and to have some kind of follow-up plan.

What’s the value of a good elevator pitch for a business?

What can it do for you?

A good elevator speech or a positioning statement accomplishes four goals:

1. Gives you a non-threatening icebreaker that can be used in ANY setting — at a networking event, at Little League, or actually in an elevator.

2. Provides interesting information that serves as a basis for follow-on conversation.

3. Identifies your unique abilities and differentiates you from others in your industry.

4. Prevents that awkward stammering that occurs all too often when you are asked, “What do you do?”

What are the typical pitfalls?

Where do elevators go bad?

A bad elevator speech can be boring, egocentric, really long (“when I was 8 years old I decided to …”), or dismissively short or sarcastic (“whatever I want!”).

How do you craft a great elevator pitch? Here are some specific tips:

1. Introduce yourself by providing something interesting and helpful. Ideally, people will ask a question to elicit more information because you are so engaging.

2. Start with whom you work for or with, and what your role is. If you are a grant writer, you might say, “I work with a nonprofit that raises money for cancer research.”

3. Be specific. Be an expert. Be a specialist.

Many people worry that if their description is too narrow, they risk not including some potential clients. People today want experts, so if you are an expert in something, say so, such as: “I specialize in developing effective office procedures for chiropractors.”

How do I turn people I just met into clients or buyers? You cannot expect an immediate client from a 30-second conversation, but after 30 seconds, most people will know if they want to pursue a possible business relationship.

If the conversation is going well, and you THINK they may be someone you would like to stay in contact with, offer to stay in touch. “I’d like to send you a copy of my book and some materials, but I want to make sure that package would be welcomed.”

This is where they enthusiastically say yes. (I got this from Lois Creamer, Book More Business, www.BookMoreBusiness. She is a genius.)

Another option: “You sound really interesting and we might have an opportunity to work together on a project. I’d like to add you to the circle of friends I keep in contact with every month. Would that be OK? It is a monthly note from me, just so we stay in touch.”

Then I add them to my monthly e-newsletter. But I always ask to make sure it is not obnoxious.

Next, send your new friend an article that might be of interest to them with a handwritten note. Link with them and endorse them on LinkedIn. Get to know the people you network with better so that when opportunity knocks, you are in touch with the right people.

Mary Kelly, PhD, is an author, speaker and leadership consultant. She can be reached at