This is networking tip #4 in my series of 5 counter intuitive networking tips. This tip is probably the hardest one of all for people to change.

All the sales gurus tell us we need to have an elevator pitch. It all sounds very plausible except for the fact that most people do not like being sold to, especially if they are not in a buying mode. I believe the underlying intention is correct. That we need to be able to express clearly and succinctly what we do for a living in an attractive way. But pitch when meeting a stranger for the very first time? No way!

The word pitch suggests that you should be selling and there is a time and a place for pitching in the sales cycle. Not when you meet someone for the very first time – you know nothing about them! What you want is to stimulate enough interest to start a conversation.

If you are in an elevator and only have a moment then its a case of them giving you a card and asking to call to continue the conversation. In over 15 years of selling I have never had an elevator moment but I have had plenty of times where I have had a few minutes. We need to be able to capitalise on that time and there is a way to stimulate interest that does not involve pitching.

When working with clients I use an approach that has proved incredibly powerful, even with people who hate networking. It is a combination of a 15 word statement that communicates your target audience and what you do for them in 15 words or less. It is then followed by a story that gives an example. The story lasts about 40-50 seconds. Together they take just under a minute which covers most situations. If you have longer then just tell another example story!

There are lots of different approaches to how you introduce yourself to people. The only ones I am really against are the ones where you sound like you are selling. That said I have to repeat my mantra:

“If it works for you, keep doing it. If it does not, try something different!”

Previous tips in the series:
Networking tip #1 – Don’t meet new people…
Networking tip #2 – Don’t ask people what they do…
Networking tip #3 – Don’t look for new clients…