Elevator Speech 101: How to Enter a Room of Strangers without Sweating

It's hard for me to remember that just three years ago, I would get
nauseous at the prospect of going to a networking event. But I do
recall that feeling of dread. I'd enter a large ballroom filled with
confident people who all appeared to know one another. I'd try to blend
into the wall, willing myself to exchange one, just one business card before the night's end.

Fast forward to now. Having owned my business
nearly three years, I have done my fair share of networking. And let me
tell you coming from someone who used to be such a shy child she'd hide
behind furniture when the neighbors came over: it's not that hard.

Small business owners need one thing to start networking (well two if you count business cards): an elevator speech.
This is your introduction that tells fellow businesspeople about you.
It's your one shot to make a great impression. So don't blow it.

Keep it to 15ish seconds long and be sure to include:

Who: your name, name of your company, your title.

Where: if applicable, tell where you're from. It's a good way to open doors ("oh you're from Chicago? I grew up there! Let's talk.").

What: Give a single sentence that summarizes what you and/or your company do.

How you add value: What does your business do that
provides benefit to others? Remember, people want to know what's in it
for them. If you can back this up with a number (we've helped our
clients increase their ROI by 200% in just 6 months), it's even more

Now, don't be afraid to mix up the above components. I hear so many canned elevator speeches that sound like this:

Hello, I'm Susan Payton, and I run Egg Marketing & Public
Relations. We help people promote their businesses online. If you need
press releases or help with social media, please contact us.

Heck, I've even given that boring speech. People won't remember you. Instead, try to make it engaging and fun.

How many of you hate the prospect of marketing your business?
Everyone, right? Well at Egg Marketing & Public Relations, we do
the hard work for you so that you can reap the benefits. I'm Susan
Payton, the owner of Egg, and I love helping business owners reach new
customers through online marketing and PR.

Which person would you want to talk to?

Some great tips for your elevator speech are:

  • Start off with a question that requires participation (hand raising is good)
  • Make a little joke
  • Give them something to remember you by.

Now go practice your elevator speech in front of your mirror!

About the Author: Susan Payton