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Push All the Right Buttons With Your Elevator Speech!
By Craig Harrison

Just as a good introductory paragraph will set a tone, identify a theme, and engage a reader, so too can your elevator speech captivate a listener in a professional or social setting. Similar to an introductory paragraph in print, your elevator speech — or sixteen second sound bite, can set you apart from your competition, showcase your uniqueness and whet a listener’s appetite to want to know you better. Are you making the most of your sixteen seconds of fame?

You meet decision-makers wherever you go. When asked your occupation, don’t just say “I sell insurance” or “I’m a trainer.” Consider these opening lines that tantalize and intrigue. A nutritionist introduces herself as “teaching you how to behave…in front of food.” A teacher informs strangers she’s “empowering the next generation a mind at a time.” Even the IRS agent is warmly received when he tells people he’s “a government fundraiser!”

Next, rather than telling people what you do (A.K.A. features), share benefits of your product, service or skill to your listener. So you’re a management consultant. If I hire you, what can you do for me? Tell me. Here’s how one professional does it:

Hi, I keep your company out of Dilbert’s comic strip. I’m a management consultant specializing in helping rapidly growing companies grow sanely. I’m Alyson Abromowitz. How well is your company growing?

Benefits include ways of helping others make money, save money, save time, improve quality, enhance health, broaden markets, etc.

Don’t forget this is a conversation. By asking questions you further engage your listener, learning about their needs and wants, establishing if a fit exists between their needs and your deliverables. Open ended questions generate more information: "What is your process for qualifying vendors?" "Describe your current system for purchasing supplies?" Yes-No questions can quickly qualify the listener: "Does your company use outside consultants?" and "Are you the decision maker in this area?"

Don't forget the Take Away. Give strangers ways to remember and contact you. A business card, pen, pin or other item with your contact information can say it better than you. Remain visible to strangers with these items. Of course, nothing beats a professional newsletter!

Tao of Networking

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