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Networking 101 – What is an Elevator Speech?

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Dr Renate Volpe, in her nugget cards entitled “Networking Tips” says:

“Your elevator speech should sound natural, be interesting and be no longer than 15 seconds.”

Ok, ok – I can hear you all saying “what’s an elevator speech?” So here is the explanation.

An elevator speech is usually a “one” liner that gives a taste of who you are and what it is that you do. It is used in most semi facilitated networking events, where everybody gets to introduce themselves to everyone present, quickly. What usually happens thereafter is that you go round a second time and everyone gets a longer time (say a minute or two) to give a little more detail. It is used specifically when there are a large number of people present and time is limited.

Here’s the best way that I know how to describe it.

Imagine that you are in a lift with Madiba (for those of you who don’t know who Madiba is – it’s Nelson Mandela). It’s one of those slow creaky lifts and he is getting off at the next floor. You have exactly that much time to tell him who you are, what it is that you do and make an impression!

Pretty tall order I know, but then if you are going to do something in life, you might as well do it properly!

Take some time and prepare something short and I mean short! I recently attended a networking event and one of the ladies got up to do her elevator speech and she took longer than the opening of parliament! Don’t do that – not only is it disrespectful to the rest of the people there, they also need to be heard, but it’s also extremely boring. People will “switch off” and travel elsewhere in their minds, while you waffle on.

It must be something catchy, something that will “grab” the attention of whomever you say it to. It must make them want to do the 30- meter dash to your side before anyone else gets to you – in order to do business before anyone else can. It must make you stand out in the crowd so that they will never forget you – they may forget your name, but they will never forget you.

To give you an example – here’s mine (and no you can’t use it – find your own!).

“My name is Nikki Viljoen. I am part of a dedicated team of people and committed Corporates who are passionate about helping SMMEs startups and grow successful sustainable businesses. I have helped thousands of people during the 40+ years that I have been doing this. Who here would like to start up or run a business that is effective, efficient and sustainable?”

Now everyone wants to talk to me – why? Well because there is not a single business owner on the planet who would not like to run their business like that.

Remember it has to make you stand out in the crowd. It’s about what makes you different – imagine if you will that you are – say a bookkeeper and there are 5 other bookkeepers at the meeting or in the room – what makes you different, why should people do business with you and not one of the other 5? See what I mean?

Getting your elevator speech just right is extremely important, especially if you are at a networking event with a number of people. So take the time to perfect it.

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at