Just walking into a room full of strangers is bad enough. But these people already know each other. You are the only stranger, and it gives you that visitor-from-outer-space feeling. You long to return to your home planet.
You know you need to introduce yourself and shake hands with people, but you’ve got that clammy feeling—sweat on the palms of your hands, sort of like the first time you asked a girl to dance.
You remind yourself why you’re there—to promote your new business—and you make a decision to hang in there, no matter what happens.
That’s right. You’re at your first networking meeting.
Lack of Preparation
You hear a bell ding and realize that the meeting is about to start. You take your seat, hoping you’re not taking someone’s usual spot.
You’ll have to stand and deliver your elevator speech. You worked on it last night and practiced it this morning in the car. Now you can’t even remember how it starts.
Luckily, the moderator says that visitors get to go last. A reprieve! One last rest stop on the way to the gallows. You try to listen as the members deliver their elevator speeches, maybe pick up a few pointers. But all your mind wants to do is agonize.
Your Embarrassing Predicament
You stand and say some . . . stuff. You cough only once, but you stammer as you tell the name of your business, M-M-Morty LLC. You glance around the room to make eye contact. No one is even paying attention. You quickly run out things to talk about, mumble thank you, and sit down.
You glance at the moderator, hoping for a thumbs-up or an “attaboy”. He’s looking at you like he wants to strangle you. “You forgot one thing,” he says. “Maybe you want to tell us your name.”
The room chuckles as you squirm.
“Oh, uh, John Morton, um, people call me Morty.” At least you didn’t stutter on your name.
Elevator Speech Template: Not As Easy As It Sounds
An elevator speech is just a short talk. You pretend you’re riding an elevator with an ideal prospect and want to tell them what you do in 30 seconds. Everybody can talk. You’ve been doing it since you were knee-high to a grasshopper.
Small talk usually doesn’t matter too much. But sometimes what you say does matter. For those times, figuring out what to say takes time, planning and, above all, structure.
Here is an elevator speech template, filled with a few structural ideas you can try out on your own. For practice, you might write out a long version, a medium-length version, and a short version. The short version will be hardest to write.
1. Contribution and Impact
Describe what you do and why it matters. Use a double-impact format: I do blah-blah-blah, SO THAT blah-blah-blah AND blah-blah-blah.
“I help you establish the market value of your home SO THAT you can advertise it for the right price AND find a qualified buyer fast.”
2. Problem, Solution, Close
This old sales formula is still around because it conforms to the way people think. People like to buy, but only if the product or service solves their problem.
“You need car insurance, but it’s hard figure out who has the best prices. Since I’m an independent insurance broker, I provide prices quote from five insurance companies. Just submit the questionnaire on my website.”
3. Persuasive Argument
The word persuade is based on a Latin word that means to advise. Persuasion is based on principles of logic that are outside the scope of this article. In simplest terms, a persuasive argument is a thesis, which lays out what you intend to prove, and one or more arguments, each of which helps prove the thesis.
Yeah, formal logic is pretty dense stuff. There are 7 basic steps in logic, and each one would require a good bit of explanation. Or, you can simply read this article on how to be persuasive about a 4 year old and a girl scout .
4. Six Honest Serving-Men
This is a journalistic formula that got its name from a poem by Rudyard Kipling. It is also called the 6 W’s: who, what, when, where, why, and how (I know, the word HOW doesn’t start with a W, but let’s not quibble).
“Morty LLC is having a workshop for widget manufacturers, and you’re all invited. It’s on Tuesday the 19th at 2:00 at Morton’s Steak House. We want to feed you a nice lunch, give you a few useful ideas, and get acquainted with you. Just fill out this form to receive an invitation.”
People love stories, but I’m not talking about once-upon-a-time storytelling; I’m talking about storytelling in business. Your business has a story that can be compelling. More important, your ideal client has a story that can grab the attention of your prospects and help them see themselves in the role of your client.
Every complete story has at least these 7 Steps: Weakness, Desire, Obstacle, Plan, Process, Moment of Truth, and New Equilibrium. Story structure helps you explain the Benefit Arc of your business.
But You’ve Only Got 30 Seconds
The truth is that you have more than 30 seconds to tell your story. In fact, you have a lifetime.
Networking is not a short-range strategy. Neither is communication. Both work best over a period of time.
My Inner Morty
That’s not my picture at the top of the post. Morty is a character I think of when I write: an avatar. I try to help him put his ideas into words.
Morty has a tremendous desire to build relationships with the right people: those who need his help and those whose help he needs.
He’s a smart guy, but he’s not smart about everything. I know his strengths, but I know his frailties too.
I know him so well because . . . well . . . there’s a little bit of Morty in me.
Your Inner Morty
I wish you the best as you go forth into the world and build your business. I hope you do it. I hope you kick ass.
If you succeed, you’ll make the world a better place. I know you will.
For times when you need advice and a word of encouragement, find friends you can rely upon. I like to drop in at the Firepole Marketing Blog. You meet good people.
Now you know a little about me (and Morty). Leave a comment and tell me a little bit about you. What’s your biggest, baddest, most Morty-like fear? Come on, don’t be skeered. Speak up.