Nice that the headline got your attention. Doing the same old elevator pitch routine at your business network meeting? Not really adjusted it much but have a deep down feeling that it just does not work for you?
I found a couple of artciles today that might give some food for thought. Sue Clement is a regular reference point for informative writing on how to get the best out of your business networking. In her article "5 deadly mistakes to avoid when answering the question"What do you do?"" she highlights 5 ways to create a negative impression when talking about yourself, and let's face it, all an elevator pitch is a glorified answer to that question. If you are a member of a business networking group in Hull and East Yorkshire or anywhere come to think of it, then I hope these extracts and comments can get you thinking positively on how to get your referral networking team working better for you, and you for them.
"1. Being too literal - using your label
The most common mistake in answering that "What do you do?" question is to just say your label - job or position title. So you might say, for example, that you're a mortgage broker, a house painter, a consultant, an accountant and so on.
So what's the problem with that? Isn't that what you are? Well, sure, you and a few thousand others in your city. Which makes it all too easy to clump you in with the featureless competition, and that's not good. You want to make sure people perceive your uniqueness, yet unless you differentiate yourself, that's not going to happen."
"2. Describe what you do... in detail!
The next deadly mistake is to describe what you DO - in detail. Again, being a bit too literal as you outline your process and all the nitty-gritty. It might be interesting to you that you have a 27-step process to help your clients, but now is not the time to share that information. Because guess what? They don't really care! "
"3. Being too sales-y
The third deadly mistake is to be too sales-y!
This is not going to work! Instead, they feel like you're putting a bulls-eye on them and use them for target practice! People will back away and avoid you like the plague. And you'll have missed a chance to engage them in a meaningful conversation - one that may have lead to a sale or referral."
"4. Being too vague about whom you work with
Some people believe that if they make their ideal target clients broad enough, they'll have more prospects & more sales. That's just not the case!
If you're not clear or too vague about WHO your services are for, i.e., anyone who breathes and will pay you, you're not going to attract anyone because no one will feel spoken to. Trying to attract everyone - will usually get you no one.
Unless people know exactly who your product or services are for, they'll be confused and you won't get referrals or attract prospects to you."
"5. You don't communicate the key problems you solve
If you don't focus on your potential clients' needs and can't communicate clearly the key problems you solve as well as the benefits of your services specifically, you won't attract anyone.
People are looking for solutions and so it's important you're able to talk about your services in a solution-focused manner. They're also looking for social proof - so make sure to have a few interesting client success stories you can share. This will help you be remembered and appear more credible."
The line about client success stories reminded me of this piece: Why Stories can be a useful business Tool. The author Taylor Ellwood raises the point that an elevator pitch often "comes off as a sales pitch and if its repeated often enough the people listening to it will start ignoring it. The speaker will also speak it out of rote, but without any real feeling or passion. The elevator speech becomes a safe haven from risking really talking about your business, but it's a safe haven that provides little in the way of opening doors."
Stories are a good way around this especially if they are focussed on how you provide solutions to problems. Remember people attend business networking events primarily because they want to do business with people. By providing details in a story on how your business provides real solutions to the issues real people deal with then you can gain your audience's interest and achieve some empathy. Make sure that you emphasize how your services deal with people's emotional and everyday problems, rather than give a dry account of a business transaction.