You know you need an elevator pitch. Perhaps you’ve even practiced and gotten “why choose me” down to a perfect pitch. But somehow you never seem to get the chance to use it. Sadly, the biggest mistake I see aspiring networkers make is that they don’t recognize an “elevator” when they’re in one.
I had my entire leadership team in for a Summit– 2 1/2 days of strategy, development, growing and fun. The shuttles from the hotel to our headquarters-based meeting left at 7 am. A few of us had cars and were driving over. As I walked into the parking lot, there was a cluster of folks who had clearly missed the bus.
“No worries, I’ve got room,” I said, cheerfully. Everyone looked at their feet. One of my Directors who also had a car offered, “or you can come with me…” They all followed her. I looked at them and smiled, “really?” You are on the way to a leadership summit, where the first thing on the agenda is how to network through elevator pitches and no one’s getting in my car? One brave soul came forward and we put her suitcase in my trunk. “Don’t worry, I said, no elevator pitch necessary.”
I then proceeded to share all the crazy stuff that had happened when I was in cars with executives. The time I was so busy “elevator pitching” my team’s results to our CEO that I drove past the exit (with an 8 mile recovery). The day I took a sales rep out to lunch for a “wager” we’d made on an “impossible” accomplishment, and got pulled over for an illegal turn. She warmed up. And bingo a BEAUTIFUL elevator pitch. I learned a bit about her and what she was up to. She asked about my career, and then shared more. We both left enriched by the time together.
Fast Pitch Exercise
Fast forward to 8 am. Summit.
A few leaders on my team created a “fast pitch” exercise. I recommend it if you ever have a large team together who are eager to advance.
A bit like speed dating, and speed mentoring, We had 120 people join us in fast pitch stations. My senior team and I were the “catchers” and everyone else brought their “elevator speeches” or joined us in a “mock interview” question in one-on-one sessions. Each session lasted only a few minutes, but we offered immediate feedback, and a chance to fine-tune. I was astounded by the progress made in such a short time.
Improve your elevator pitch
In the debrief, the team said they learned to…
- Start with genuine connection
- Understand what’s important to “them” and build on that
- Don’t assume they get your world
- Speak in understandable language
- Don’t minimize who you are
- Share your passion and energy
- Speak from your heart (show up genuine)
Most importantly. Get in the car. Leverage that walk to the meeting. Chat while working together on volunteer day. Get past the small talk at the recognition dinner.
Elevator speeches don’t need elevators.
Know your worth, hone your message, and share it.