Ah, the nineties.
Naturally, I went through the grunge phase – plaid shirts and Doc Marten boots. Then I discovered blonde hair dye and contact lenses and, well, as you might have noticed, that look kinda stuck.
I don’t know how you spent that decade, but I was at school and then university. When I graduated in 1999, I discovered that around about the time I was trying to figure out how to use eye makeup, or maybe it was when I was spending my Saturdays selling rolls of camera film (yes – actual film that you had to get developed!), a couple of dudes in New York had invented the elevator pitch.
A newly printed CV and an ill-fitting pantsuit were no longer enough to get me launched into the corporate world. I now had to be able to tell someone who I was and what I could do for them in the length of time it took for a lift to travel up a few floors of a building (and, let me tell you, at the time, the buildings in Manchester were not very high).
To be honest, I never really nailed the elevator pitch – until recently.
Turns out I was overthinking it.
I don’t think it really helps to think of your introduction to anyone as an elevator pitch – it sounds way too sales-y. Too corporate. Too… nineties.
Think of your introduction as an opportunity to connect. An opener that makes it really easy for the person you’re talking to just to understand really simply who you are, what you do, and who you do it for.
Nothing fancy. Nothing quirky. Nothing that makes your new acquaintance cringe and start looking for the exit for fear you’ve got them pegged as your next client.
Just the basics of what they need so they can engage in a further conversation – or step out of that metaphorical elevator.
Now, when I meet someone, I say “Hi, I’m Rachel. I’m a content strategist working with female entrepreneurs to uncover their message, reveal their voice and empower them to create content that helps them to build profitable businesses.”
Short, simple and to-the-point.
“But, Rachel, I can’t say something like that – I get all tongue-tied. It’s a bit long. And doesn’t it sound too polished?”
These are actual objections I get when I talk about creating your own introduction ‘piece’.
I’ll deal with each in turn:
1. The way to not get tongue-tied is to practice. Someone once said to me “You sound as if you’ve said that 20 times in front of a mirror.” I laughed – because I had. And the more you say it, the more natural it sounds. Also, take your time saying it – it won’t sound as ‘slow’ as you feel you’re saying it!
2. Why is it too long? Do you not deserve to have air time? Is what you do and how you serve people not worthy of being explained in all its glory?
3. Too polished? I refer you back to my response to point two above – and I add in the following: In business, every conversation is a potential sales conversation. You owe it to yourself and your business to present yourself in the very best possible light at all times.
How to design your elevator pitch
Who you are
Keep it simple, and just give the person your first name – especially if you have a slightly unusual surname, as I do. You want who you’re talking to to be listening to you when you start telling them what you do – not wondering if they heard your name right or where your name’s from (mine’s Italian, in case you were wondering!)
What you do
Again, simplicity works best. Sure, you might have given yourself a cute job title like ‘Chief Fun Officer’ or ‘Branding Ninja’ – but out of the context of your Instagram profile, these phrases won’t mean anything to the person standing in front of you. Boil it down to the lowest common denominator; in these cases, ‘Event Planner’ and ‘Graphic Designer’.
On another note, don’t try to be clever here either. I’ve been to so many networking events where people have stood up and said something along the lines of “Hey there, I’m Fallulah, and I help businesses to get more visible and hit six-figures!”
That’s great, Fallulah, but what do you do? And how do you do that?
Without the what (Fallulah could be a content strategist, a graphic designer, a coach, a photographer – you get the picture), people still don’t really know what you do.
Who you work with
This is where you tell the person/people you’re speaking to if you can help them, or gets them thinking of someone that they could refer you to.
You can be as specific as you like here, for example, “I work with Berkshire-based female owners of three-legged miniature dachshunds”, or “I work with marmite-loving contortionists who have an online business selling hand-knitted tea cosies”.
How you help them
Now you can explain how you help your clients and how your clients benefit from working with you! If you’ve got facts and figures to add in, that’s even better.
Okay – so it’s time to put it all together.
The key to an elevator pitch is tweaking it to the circumstances. For example, at an informal networking event over coffee, Fallulah would probably just say “Hi! I’m Fallulah, and I’m a graphic designer.”
Or, at a more formal occasion (you know, one of those where everyone has to stand up and introduce themselves…), she might give the full long-play 12” version, “Hi! I’m Fallulah. I’m a graphic designer specialising in working with female life coaches, helping them to stand out online and grow their businesses to six-figures and beyond.”
Creating your elevator pitch is something that we do as part of my Mistress of Your Message program (alongside figuring out your big message, defining your ideal client, creating a business-goal-aligned content strategy, you know, just the small stuff!), so if this is the kind of thing that you really want to nail in your business, then book a call with me and we can have a chat!