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The Importance of a Business Elevator Pitch When Networking

Nov 2nd, 2015

A business elevator pitch is a 15-30 second verbal statement about your business.  Think of it as an executive summary of yourself and your business.   Why is it called an “elevator pitch” – it should be short enough to get your concept across to someone during a short ride on an elevator.

An elevator pitch should: define who you are, describe what your business does, identify your target customers, and explain what’s unique about your business.  More importantly, it’s not a sales pitch, rather an opportunity to make a good impression that will lead into a deeper dialogue about what you and your business can offer.

When you are networking – either at an event or just in a casual conversation – it is important to remember a couple key rules when using your elevator pitch:

Be careful about using industry specific buzzwords.  You can quickly lose someone’s attention with your pitch if it’s full of industry jargon or is too technical.  I have been to many networking meetings where the web-related service providers start throwing out jargon – SEO, analytics, dynamic content, hosting, etc. By the end of their elevator pitch, I don’t know if they are web developer, search optimization specialist, or web host.  Unfortunately for them, I placed them into the ‘web’ category in my memory with all the others that confused me.  Thus, they don’t get a referral from me.

Know your audience.  It’s fine to use a memorized (canned) one to two sentence elevator pitch.  However, depending on who you are talking with, a customized pitch might be more effective.  For example, describing your highly technical business to a prospective customer might be a much different pitch than the one that describes your business to a person unfamiliar with your technology….. but happens to be best friends with your largest prospect. If you are not sure who the person is or what they do, ask them first before launching into your pitch blindly.

Be specific.  This goes back to the basic premise of who is your target market.   If I meet a financial planner who is actively prospecting from new clients, and their elevator pitch states that they work with ‘everyone,’ I’m probably going to lump them in with the other dozen or so financial planners that said something similar.  However, if that person states a more specific target market, i.e. small business owners, then I have a much better chance of remembering them as a potential referral.

Don’t be too sales-y.   The goal of a business elevator pitch is to get your audience to understand what your business is about and what it can do for them (or someone they know).  It’s not to close a deal or a sale.  However, if you are talking to a prospective customer or strategic referral partner, an elevator pitch with a call to action, i.e. future meeting, is perfectly acceptable.

An elevator pitch can be one of the simplest yet most powerful tools for a small business owner.  Take the time to craft a good one and practice it so that it becomes 2nd nature.