How to make a great business networking pitch

The 60 second pitch you use when out business networking (previously known as your elevator pitch) is pretty important if you network for business in a face-to-face context. And even if you only network online, you need to get what you do and why it’s worth taking seriously over concisely.

How to make a great business networking pitch

“Good morning. My name is XXX and I am a professional voyeur.”

As I’ve said before, the old standard line of “my name is XXX from YYY company and we help our clients (etc., etc.)” has become a bit of a cliché. But the reason why clichés become clichés is because they get used a lot. And the reason why they get used a lot is because they work: they express a particular thought or sentiment perfectly.

So let us not throw the baby out with the bathwater here (another cliché – sorrreee…) but instead re-examine how this approach – not necessarily this wording – can be used to help you make a successful networking one-minuter.

Most people speak at somewhere between 120 and 150 words per minute. Given that you will probably rattle through your 60 seconds quite quickly even for you – and the organizers are unlikely to bang a big gong if you run over by a few seconds – let’s aim at around 150 words.

Everyone who has written recently about these one-minuters recommends a structure that generally goes something like this:

  1. Say who you are and the name of your business
  2. Identify a general problem the audience can identify with, which you can solve
  3. Tell them how you solve such problems and why you do it better than your competitors
  4. Remind them of the benefits your solutions give them
  5. Give a gentle call to action, e.g. come and see me later to see how we can help you
  6. Repeat your name and company name

As there are 6 sections here and you have 150 words to get them into, let’s do the math: that’s an average of 25 words per section.

Numbers 1. and 6. only need to be around 10 words each, leaving the middle four sections with just over 30 words per hit. That’s about two shortish sentences, although obviously some can be longer and some can shorter. But you get the drift; your words need to be very succinct.

The one-off business networking pitch

This is a hard one, especially if your business does a lot of good things and helps its customers in lots of different ways. Because you don’t have time to go into all those ways, you need to encapsulate what all those ways add up to.

Actually when you think about it, that’s something you (or your marketing people) should do anyway, if your business is going to present the world with a valid USP.

As always, don’t get stuck trying to convey features; focus on the benefits your business provides. The key message here is to distill what you do and how it benefits customers, down to one strong story. Never mind if it provides a number of benefits: work out what the key overall benefit is. Does it reduce stress? Does it reduce overall costs? Does it reduce down time? That’s what people will warm to.

The monthly business networking pitch

Many of us belong to business networking groups that have monthly or other periodical meetings at which everyone is expected to get up and do a one-minuter each time.

There can be nothing more tedious than the business person who gets up and says the same thing time and time again. So what can you do?

Go back to your earlier deliberations. Unless you sell headache pills, your business is likely to solve a number of your customers’ different problems – not just one. So you now need to consider adapting the structure as follows…

  1. Say who you are and the name of your business
  2. Identify a specific problem the audience can identify with, which you can solve
  3. Tell them how you have solved that problem for an existing customer
  4. Remind them of the benefits your overall solutions will give them, too
  5. Give a gentle call to action, e.g. come and see me later to see how we can help you
  6. Repeat your name and company name

By using very mini case studies, this should give you some mileage for quite a while. And when you have run out of very mini case studies, go back to the first one; people are unlikely to remember the specific detail, although they should remember the overall impression.

Do something a bit different with your business networking pitch

A good friend of mine here in the UK is in the video surveillance business – an ex police officer who specializes a) in enhancing and interpreting CCTV images to a high degree that’s acceptable as evidence in court and b) advising customers on what CCTV surveillance equipment to use and especially, how and where to use it.

His business networking pitch is always a conversation stopper:

[ctt title=”Good morning. My name is XXX and I am a professional voyeur.” tweet=””Good morning. My name is XXX and I am a professional voyeur.”” coverup=”8lpAz”]

Sadly most of us can’t lay claim to such an intriguing opening line! But where most of us can grab attention that’s out of the routine, it’s in section #2 – identify a problem.

No matter how simple your business offering might be, you are bound to be able to help customers with more than one problem that might keep them awake at night. Maybe 5, 10, 15 or more. So look those out and use them to get your networking audience’s attention.

And generally be creative

One good friend of mine who has three entirely discrete businesses – a franchise of health products, a book-keeping and accountancy firm, and an IT emergency repair service – now manages to differentiate her offerings by singing them. Yep, that’s right; she is a wonderful singer and often at business networking meetings she will share her one-minuter in song. Beat that, if you can!

My CCTV pal as mentioned above still manages to get riveting attention with his “I am a professional voyeur” line.

I sometimes get some good laughs when I substantiate why I can help people write better because I have written for every medium in the last million years short of tablets of stone, and that only because I’m useless with a hammer and chisel.

So think about what you offer. Even a lawyer or an accountant can be creative once they get their heads out of their legal-speak and think about what worries their clients … e.g. “do you lose sleep over your tax returns when they’re due?” or “are you terrified that your kids will suffer from your divorce?”

Lastly, keep your business networking pitch fresh and up to date

Although the basics of your pitch are unlikely to change unless your business changes, keep abreast of changing conditions and circumstances in related industries and above all within your clients’/customers’ worlds.

That’s the best way to capture and contain their interest and loyalty.

What advice you would like to share about the most effective ways to give business networking pitches? Please let us know here!

 

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Thoughts

  1. Great advice Suzan, although I would prefer to see the elevator pitch geared towards referrals rather than sales. So the call to action is about “who do you know” rather than “if we can help you”.

  2. Yes, that’s a very good point Jacky – an excellent alternative ending to use when a sales-orientated one would be inappropriate. Thanks for that!

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