Business Networking Strategies – the Elevator Pitch
For a lot of people, when they start a new business, they take a training course. It might be in an area relevant to their industry or profession, it might be a general training course, like our small business StartUp course, or it might be training in particular software, like our MYOB or Xero training courses. The best way to practice an elevator pitch is to practice all the time.
Training is incredibly important, but it’s no substitute for real-life interaction with other business owners, with whom you can gain valuable insights and perspectives on owning and operating a new business in the real world. This is what makes attending regular networking groups and events an important undertaking for any small business owner – old or new.
I recently wrote a blog post on what you should do at a networking event, but there was one point that we didn’t cover in great detail because I felt that it required a blog post of its own, as it’s crucial to your success as a networker: the elevator pitch.
Honing your elevator pitch
Perhaps you’ve heard of the term elevator pitch before. It’s most often used to describe a business or organisation’s mission statement; the name reflects the idea that you should be able to explain what your business does in the time it takes to ride an elevator. When you write a business plan, in it you need to include an executive summary, which explains what your business does or will do; it’s also your elevator pitch.
But your elevator pitch needs to do more than just explain what your business does. It also needs to encourage people to want to do business with you – or at least, continue listening to what you have to say. If you’ve completed our small business marketing course, then you’d have already practiced writing and honing an elevator pitch for your business when you wrote the executive summary of your business plan.
Be interesting, but above all, be compelling
Remember the goal of a business plan is to entice someone to invest in your business or idea, but the plan itself can run for many pages, detailing strategies and tactics for ensuring your business’s overall success. Most banks and financiers don’t have time to read every single business plan that lands on their desk, so they turn to the executive summary to see if the venture seems like a good fit for them.
It goes without saying, then, that your executive summary needs to be compelling, as does your elevator pitch. If you’ve written a business plan for your business, this is a good place to start when developing the elevator pitch you plan to use at a networking group or event. Be personable, though, and keep it conversational. Remember that the person on the receiving end of your elevator pitch is unlikely to be reading it; they’re listening to you deliver it instead, so you need to be comfortable giving your elevator pitch, while also seeming authentic.
Key elements of an elevator pitch
In crafting your elevator pitch, it’s crucial to include the following key elements:
- Hook people with a good opening line that makes them want to hear more
- Tell people what you do, not what you are
- Repeat key information, such as your business name or main product or service
- Be interesting and authentic
- Use plain language when you’re describing a problem your product or service solves
- Think about your end goal and ensure your elevator pitch services to achieve it
- Finish your pitch by asking the other person what they do.
You should know have a good understanding of what to do at a networking event or group; now it’s just time to find a group to try out your new skills. Try meet-up.com or your local chamber of commerce to find groups near you. Make sure to RSVP if you are going to attend, and then stick to it. If something comes up, let the organiser know, so they don’t hold the meeting up waiting for you.