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Don't Give Your Elevator Pitch to Potential Clients -- Get Them to Ask for It

I stink at elevator pitches, mainly because I'm a chicken. If you're in the hen house with me, don't give up. There's hope.
Here's my problem. Mark Henrick's post on 3 Tips to Lift Your Elevator Pitch off the Ground Floor is a great primer on making a solid initial impression. Preparation is one thing though, delivery another. An elevator pitch still feels forced and obvious, at least when I give one a go, so I usually chicken out and console myself by rationalizing that impromptu encounters with people in need of a ghostwriter aren't likely anyway.

Here's the solution. Get people to ask for your pitch. It's easy. You just need a conversational hook.

Example: I was standing beside a young man at a reception and I asked what he does. (I know -- I'm a sparkling conversationalist.)

He said, "I crash websites."

"You do what?" I couldn't help but ask.

"I crash websites," he said. "Our clients hire us to increase traffic to their websites, and our goal is to generate so much traffic their sites crash. No crash, we feel like we failed. We try not to fail."

Notice he didn't lead with descriptions of SEO techniques or PR stunts or link strategies. We did talk about those topics, but only because I was hooked: I had to find out what they did that created so much traffic that sites would crash. He turned what could have been a forgettable pitch into what was, for me, a memorable conversation. While I'm not a potential client, guaranteed I'll recommend him.

As Mark said in his article, "Your abilities to quickly size up your elevator-mate, choose an appropriate goal for the ride, and select the proper speech from your repertoire are crucial..." When you get your elevator-mate to ask questions, sizing them up and providing the information they need is almost automatic.

If making an elevator pitch makes you feel awkward or uncomfortable, try this instead. Step back from your mission statement or vision statement or unique selling proposition. What do you really do? Then create your own conversational hook. Pitching will be a lot easier since the best pitch isn't a pitch at all. The best pitch is a conversation.

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Photo courtesy flickr user sanchom, CC 2.0
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