Improve your networking skills to capture new business
The Elevator Speech
If you have participated in a networking group, joined a BNI or barter group, or play an active role in your local business chamber, you most likely know the importance of the Elevator Speech (I'll use "ES" for simplicity). In this time of social distancing, you may not have too many opportunities for striking up a conversation in an actual elevator or checkout lane; however, it is likely that you are spending oodles of time on video conference calls.
Your ES may change over time; however, I highly recommend that you incorporate a speech script in your Brand Guide. You and your team will use this script to look and sound sharp when it's time to introduce yourself on a conference call, and you'll always have a clear, well-practiced statement whenever someone asks, "What do you do?"
How often have you heard a friend or colleague say, "Gee, I didn't know you did that!" What may seem obvious to you, is not always plain for the general public. In this way, the process of creating an ES can be very revealing. You have 30 seconds or less to express WHO you are, WHAT you offer, WHY you're in business, and HOW your products or services can improve the lives of your customers or clients.
Practice Makes Perfect
The first rules for your Elevator Speech are: Prepare and Practice. Your ES must be clear and succinct, and delivered with confidence. People who try to "wing it," often leave something out, stumble over their phrasing, or bore their audience with too much information. The habit of Wingin' It is one of the biggest hurdles I try to correct with my marketing consulting clients. Although it takes some convincing, my clients unanimously agree that this exercise works miracles to:
Build call confidence
Avoid self-deprecating statements or asides
Prevent rambling, and overusing "Ah" or "Um"
Build rapport and trust
Get immediate feedback or referrals
Networking and conference calls are opportunities for FREE ADVERTISING — so make sure you get this right and share with your team. You can even test a few versions to see which speech has the most impact, or create different versions for specific audiences. The goal is to leave a good impression and inspire new business.
6 Simple Steps
There are lots of online resources to help you craft an effective ES; however, the following steps are all you need:
Identify Your Goal or Audience This is the objective of your pitch. For instance, do you want to tell potential clients about your organization? Do you have a great new product that's on sale for a limited time? Do you want listeners to take a specific action — like booking a consult or signing up for a list?
Explain What You Do Keep the WHAT very simple by thinking HOW your business or products improve the lives of your customers.
Include your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) What makes your business unique? What sets you apart from the competition? Consider including a fun fact or recent win to illustrate this value.
Elicit Engagement Prepare an open-ended question, or ask the listener to take immediate action. For example: "How much time does it take you to [fill in the blank]?" or "Text 'PURE GOLD' to 55555 to get instant access to my free report."
Be Memorable We can't (yet) pass business cards or brochures via Zoom, so make sure you wrap up by repeating your name, your business name, and your tagline. If you have a jingle, sing it (or play it)! If you have a fun background, use it! If you have a branded shirt or hat, wear it!
Prepare & Perfect HOW you say something it is just as important as WHAT you say. Use a stopwatch and/or audio recorder to time your speech, and practice until it sounds conversational and compelling. Practice in front of a mirror, and weed out words that are difficult to say or understand. Enlist a friend to listen and give feedback. Even though you're using a formula to create your pitch, it shouldn't sound like one! Body language and appearance is just as important on a video conference call, as it is in person. Sit up straight and speak directly into your computer's camera. Smile. Feel free to talk with your hands, but try not to fidget or cause unnecessary distraction. Dress neatly (from at least the waist up). Preparation also means TESTING your video and/or audio settings at least 10 minutes prior to the meeting start time, and picking a quiet place for the duration of the call. Follow the Golden Rule by being attentive and respectful to the other attendees.
"Networking is an investment in your business. It takes time and when done correctly can yield great results for years to come." — Diane Helbig
😷 We're Stronger Together
The pandemic has affected many small businesses, so NOW is the time to support each other, network, and #ShopLocal.