Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What do you do that can help me?

A short, snappy answer to the question, “What do you do (that can help me)?” is the universal icebreaker for networking. It’s your most important brief business speech whether you are looking for business or looking for a job.

Common business jargon for this is the “elevator speech” or “elevator pitch” – something short enough to introduce you or your business during a ride on an elevator. A brief version might take only 15 to 30 seconds. A more detailed one might take a minute (or even two) and it might instead better be described as an escalator speech. Your elevator speech should discuss the benefits that you or your product can provide, not just features. The speech should be free of jargon, so lose those TLAs (three letter acronyms).

Where can you find examples of elevator speeches? Craig Harrison presents six brief examples in an article on Elevating Your Consulting Practice with Your Elevator Speech. Jay Roy displays an excellent longer job search speech in his article on The gift of the Gab: Becoming a Better Networker. Catherine Hansen shows five examples in her article on how The Elevator Speech is the Swiss Army Knife of Job-Search Tools.

Is it easy to write an elevator speech? No, it is both hard and time consuming. After all, it’s almost like writing a radio commercial about yourself or your business. Chris King ends his article on How to Craft an Effective Elevator Speech by giving his own speech as an example. Terry Dean’s article on how to Create Your Elevator Speech also includes his own speech as an example.

May 10, 2009 update

More recently Daisy Wademan Dowling discussed How to Perfect an Elevator Pitch. She said that you should:

1. Practice, practice, practice - 100 times or till you know it cold.

2. Focus on impact – describe results not years of experience.

3. Ditch the cultural baggage - get comfortable with bragging about your contributions.

4. Be slow and steady - speak at a pace that shows your calm and confidence.

5. See the whole world as an elevator – not just job fairs and interviews.

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