How To Stop Your Elevator Pitch Plummeting Downwards

You know when you’re out on business and you meet someone new and they ask you, “And what do you do?” – what do you answer?

I hope it’s something more engaging than 90% of the responses I’ve had, which were dull, dull, dull, usually due to the person simply reciting their job title and company.

But being the nosey-parker I am (I like to call it professional curiosity) instead of leaving it at that, I’ll often ask more questions and soon discover, far from being dull, the person does something that’s actually very interesting.

But what if you’re not talking to a nosey-parker like me?

What if the person you’re addressing simply says, “Oh, I see,” and moves on to speak to someone else. (As they’d be perfectly entitled to do, having been faced with such a dull response.)

Congratulations. You’ve just lost a prime opportunity to build a relationship and expand your network.

But as I’m about to show you, it doesn’t take much to come up with an elevator pitch that would fall into the magical 10% of responses I’ve had – the ones that had me curious for more without any extra effort on my part.

To illustrate my point, I’m going to relay to you a conversation I had with a young lady who’d attended one of my personal brand workshops. We happened to be heading home on the same train so ended up talking further about how she could blow her own trumpet to better effect. (It’s not word-for-word obviously, but you’ll get the gist for sure.)

Me: So when someone asks you, “And what do you do?” what do you say?

Her: I tell them I’m a lawyer. Although I get really annoyed when the next question they ask is, “So do you go to court?” They just assume that’s the only type of lawyer there is.”

Me: So what type of lawyer are you?

Her: I’m a corporate lawyer.

Me: I’ve no idea what a corporate lawyer does – as, I suspect, most people wouldn’t. So what do you actually do?

Her: I help my clients to buy and sell businesses. I carry out due diligence, oversee the administration and ensure the contract is legal.

Me: That’s what you do, but what does all that actually deliver?

Her: Well, I’m there from beginning to end to make sure the deal goes smoothly and, once the business has been bought or sold, they know they got the best deal and nothing will blow up in their face.

Me: So comparing that to something most people will have done (as opposed to the much smaller number who have bought or sold a business) it’s a bit like when someone is buying a house. Once your client has decided which ‘property’ to buy, you act as the surveyor checking the foundations are sound, the mortgage adviser getting the best financial deal and the solicitor making sure it’s all legal and binding.

Her: It’s pretty much like that.

Me: So why not tell people what you do in a way they can understand? Why not start off by likening your job to something they know, then relating that to something they’ve yet to know? Why not answer the question, “And what do you do?” with the response, “Well, have you ever bought a house?”

Then, when the person says “Yes” (as is likely in the circles you network in) say, “And when you did, did you have surveyor check the property over, then get help with the mortgage from an adviser, then have a solicitor do all the paperwork?”

Again, they’ll likely say “Yes”. To which you then reply, “Well, I do the job of all three of those people, only my clients aren’t buying a house, they’re buying a business – or sometimes selling one. I’m a corporate lawyer.”

Now apply the same to you

If you know in your heart of hearts your elevator pitch could do with some extra lift (pun intended) why not put yourself in Her place? Ask yourself the same questions I asked that corporate lawyer and see if you can come up with something that’ll do you the justice you deserve – and keep your listener’s interest to boot.

What’s your approach to your elevator pitch? Have you already got a zinger along with an example of how it’s got a fantastic reaction? Or are you happy delivering a dull response and think the elevator pitch is overrated? There’s a comment box below just ready for your thoughts!

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