Get Clients – Network Well – Do Better than an “Elevator Speech”

“I met this guy at a conference. Things were going fine until I asked, ‘What do you do?’ Then he launches into a commercial about himself. Total disconnect. I finally had to say, ‘Excuse me. I just remembered: I have to make a phone call home,” Amy, a friend, said. “Apparently, somebody had told this guy that he has to have a smooth ‘Elevator Speech.’ It wasn’t smooth. It was fake.”

In my speeches titled “Power Up Your Brand: Attract Clients,” I alert the audiences to how an Elevator Speech can break one’s connection with a new contact. With an Elevator Speech, the idea is: You’d say these words as if you only had 30 seconds during an elevator ride to communicate the value of your work.

Here’s the Big Problem: Most people are not trained performers so it sounds like a canned commercial! The listener feels bad. It’s as if they think: “Hey! We were having a human conversation. Where did you go?! Now, I’m just listening to a robotic commercial.”

Here’s an example of a stilted Elevator speech: “I am a financial wizard. I help you build a fortress around your assets.” (Imagine that said in an over-the-top, artificial way.)

Instead, we’ll use the Y.E.S. process:

Y – Yearn for “Elevator Dialogue”
E – Energize Listening
S – Sprinkle “diamonds”

  1. Yearn for “Elevator Dialogue”

As an Executive Coach, I mention to clients: “When you meet someone in a networking event, be aware of whether the situation is “Talk At” or “Talk With.”

Talk With refers to having an Elevator Dialogue. We “yearn for Elevator Dialogue” because we want what it gives us. It deepens the connection. You only talk about what feels relevant to the other person.

You avoid giving that person a stilted, canned Elevator Speech.

Instead, you make sure that you support a real and warm conversation. The person begins to trust you because you avoid “talking at” her, and you create a good business relationship from the start. Realize to “Power Up Your Brand,” it’s important to build it on trust. I’ve trained graduate students to develop a personal brand of T.H.O.R.: Trustworthy, Helpful, Organized, Respectful.

  1. Energize Listening

There is a vital thing you need to do: Make sure what you say is relevant to the person you’re talking with. How do you do that? You start listening as soon as possible.

Listening is a prime business relationship builder. Years ago, a telemarketer called me and said, “I know your business.” Apparently, he had checked on my blog and other details. But he did NOT ask me questions. He did NO listening. He failed to earn my trust. I thought, “If you won’t listen to me, how can I trust you to help me?”

On the other hand, I share with audiences: When you’re listening, you’re winning.

Begin with “Gentle Questions.” No one wants to be interrogated. Still, we seem to be “automatic question-answering beings.”

A question is gentle when it’s easy to answer and, perhaps, fun to answer.

You can ask: “Are you a business owner or do you work as part of a team?”

Business owners have truly different concerns from someone who works for a salary as part of a team.

Here are examples of other Gentle Questions:

  • What are you looking forward to at this conference?
  • Who is your ideal client?

You can gently start a conversation with a new contact at a networking event with something like: “Hello, I’m [your name] and you are?”

The person gets used to answering your gentle questions.

  1. Sprinkle “diamonds”

Some novice business people make the error of reciting their resume.

Instead, I coach clients (and audience members) to pick a couple vital details to share naturally during a conversation.

Even when you’re telling a story, keep it short. That’s what I mean by “sprinkle” – like you would add a small amount of a condiment to a meal. Often, when giving an example, keep it to 20 seconds or less and turn the spotlight (of the conversation) back on the other person.

Here is an example:

George: “So, what do you do?”

Janet: “I’m wondering. Are you a business owner or do you work as part of a team?”

George: “I own my own business. It’s web-based and I do [________]. I’m still curious about what you do, Janet.”

Janet: “I help business owners like you by designing graphics that make your home page ‘stickier.’ You know that people decide to leave a web page in 2 seconds or less. The graphics and designs I create get people to click and go deeper into your website. The conversation rate has often gone up 67%. More conversations to more sales. Are you working on bringing a new product to the market soon?”

In the above example, Janet sprinkled the “diamond” of the improvement of 67% in the conversion rate. Then, you notice that she asks a question to return the “conversation spotlight” to focus on the other person.

In summary, business people do better when they use an Elevator Dialogue to make good and warm connections with new people.



Tom Marcoux
Spoken Word Strategist

CEO/Speaker/Executive Coach (visitors from 98 countries)

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