Networking Your Way to Profits: Part 1 'The Power of The Elevator Speech'

Carol Bentley

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Networking Your Way to Profit – Part 1

The ‘Elevator Speech’ – Part 1

Create your own business network and you create a wealth of opportunity. The opportunity to find business; give business and introduce business people to each other. Concentrate on creating a network of contacts who know you, trust you and, eventually recommend you. The most effective way of doing this is to make sure you know what he /she offers – so you can recommend him/her. Then he wants to ‘return the favour’ by recommending you.

Before he can suggest you to other business contacts, or even decide if he wants you in his network, he needs to know what you do and why he should recommend you. Your challenge is to get him to decide you are a valuable addition to his network right from the word ‘Go!’ That’s where having a powerful, succinct – perhaps even intriguing – elevator speech works magic for you.

The idea is very simple, but extremely effective. The intention is to give a powerful or intriguing introduction, when you first meet someone, so people ask for more information – rather than ‘switching off’. The name; ‘Elevator Speech’ originates from the US and refers to the time it would take to ‘ride the elevator’ to the top of a high-rise building – about 30 seconds.

And that’s about the maximum amount of time you have to keep someone’s attention after they ask “What do you do?” If your answer is boring or long-winded he (or she) starts looking for a way to ‘escape’ from you.

There are many ‘elevator speech’ structures and theories around. I first came across this particular one at a Jay Abraham’s seminar in London in 1994. It was introduced by one of his co-presenters and the structure made it so easy for a beginner to use.

The ‘speech’ has 4 specific elements:

“You know how…”
“Which means …”
“Well, what I do is…”
“Which means …”

I thought this was such a brilliant way of introducing yourself I enthusiastically ‘spread the word’ amongst my own business colleagues.

And something suddenly struck me… an awful lot of them just ‘didn’t get it’. Oh, they got the idea alright, and they seemed to understand the principle. But when they tried to put it into practice for themselves they either went on for too long (in some cases the elevator could have gone up and down a dozen times before they finished!) or they missed the point of highlighting a serious problem and demonstrating a solution with a real benefit or an intriguing notion.

Let me tell you about one example. . .

I’d agreed to give a presentation on business networking with a good friend and business colleague of mine, who organises corporate events and exhibitions and offers training on how to get the most out of attending an exhibition. Our presentation was at a business breakfast meeting – we have quite a few of these in the UK. Now, Chris is absolutely brilliant at networking, but he hadn’t come across the Elevator Speech before. We decided it would be a good tool to share with the delegates and Chris agreed to write his own Elevator Speech as a demonstration.

This is what he came up with…

“You know how some business people attend exhibitions but don’t know how to work their stands”
“Which means they don’t get the business contacts they need”
“Well, what I do is train them how to work the stand properly”
“Which means they get new business from the exhibition”

Although this was OK; it does actually describe what Chris does for the exhibiting company, it really didn’t hit any ‘hot buttons’ for anyone listening.

You see, the first statement “You know how. . . ” must reveal a hot problem – whether real or perceived. Chris’ first attempt just didn’t state a problem people could identify with.

So what is the real problem businesses see in exhibiting? Well, for smaller businesses there is a barrier to taking part in exhibitions (at least there is here in the UK, maybe elsewhere as well). Entrepreneurs and business owners find it difficult to justify spending the money and time on an exhibition. And it is purely because they don’t have a clue of how to get the most out of it. Chris does – he and his associates have over 50 years of experience between them. So the ‘real’ problem here is not ‘how to work the stand’ it’s ‘how to justify taking an exhibition stand’.

After talking it through, this is what we came up with:

“You know how some businesses regard exhibitions as a complete waste of time and effort because they never seem to get any extra business, Which means they don’t exhibit and lose out on the opportunity to make a high number of business contacts in a comparatively short time, don’t you?”

“Well, what I do is train business people on how to prepare for the exhibition beforehand, how to work their stand on the day and follow-up afterwards, Which means they maximise their opportunity to make good contacts in a focussed environment, know how to follow-up and get good sales results by exhibiting, making the exhibition a cost effective way of increasing business and profit. ”

It needed more refining – but the perceived problem for prospective exhibitors had been established.

In the next part of this article I’ll give you another example, show you how to create your own elevator speech and give you some important insights of how to make yours even more powerful…

©2005 Original Work by Carol Bentley

Author of ‘I Want to Buy Your Product. . . Have You Sent Me a Letter Yet? (How to create powerful sales letters, advertisements, flyers, brochures, web pages and newsletters that persuade hundreds, or even thousands, of additional customers and clients to buy from you!) by Carol A E Bentley (Rated 5-star on

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