Whether you’re attending a conference, a networking event or a work function, you have mere seconds to make that vital first impression, so it’s worth giving some thought to your personal introduction.
Many business owners put a lot of time and effort into crafting a catchy “elevator pitch”, but in an effort to appear interesting, the message can often get a little lost. So, how do you create a memorable first impression without sounding fake? My advice is to forget practicing some 30 second pitch that’s supposed to make you irresistible and get back to basics. The elevator pitch is dead—the truth is, it was never that great to begin with.
Here are a few guidelines for nailing that all-important personal introduction.
1) Relax & Focus
There’s nothing wrong with trying to impress so you can land the job you want or score a new client, but try to relax and be strategic in your efforts. If you buzz around the room dropping business cards all night, you’re not going to make much of an impact. It’s far better to focus on building relationships with a few people than making a quick sale.
Tip: Try to get hold of a list of attendees before the event and do a little research. This way you can focus your efforts and make sure you introduce yourself to the people you want to meet.
2) Talk less. Listen more.
Sometimes when we’re on edge or a little nervous we tend to babble or stumble over our words, so rhyming off a big spiel is a no-no. It’s best to avoid giving people chapter and verse as soon as they ask “so, what do you do?”. It can be a little overwhelming.
There’s nothing wrong with simply stating the facts, like, “I work in real estate” or “I run my own marketing agency”. Feel free to elaborate if it’s appropriate or expected.
I’m a mortgage broker specialising in the commercial investment market.
I’m a web designer for online retailers.
I run a marketing agency for businesses wanting to grow their web presence.
Tip: I recommend that you press the pause button right here and wait for the other person to ask more questions before you go on. Remember this is a conversation, not a pitch.
3) Create a little intrigue
While you may be focused on having a conversation, we’re not forgetting that you need to use this opportunity to market yourself. You need to be ready for those follow up questions so you can tell people about your business or skills in a way that’s going to pique their curiosity.
Tip: Concentrate on giving people bite-sized snippets about your business or product. Don’t push information on people. Even if you deem them to be your ideal customers they may not agree (especially if you sell life insurance or anti-ageing cream!).
As a first step, write down answers to these questions.
- What problem do you solve for people?
- What is the impact of your work? How does life change for your customers after they work with you or buy your product?
- What do you believe in? What’s the message you want to give people about what you do?
So for example, if you’re an online marketing consultant, you might say something like.
I help professional services companies start online conversations with their ideal clients. I recently helped a client land a huge contract with a Fortune 500 company. I believe there’s way too much fear mongering around social media. Every company can benefit from having a social media presence. They just need to know how to use it to their advantage.
This is more conversational than the traditional elevator pitch and it conveys several important points about your business, namely.
- What you do
- Who you serve
- The results you help your clients achieve.
When you feel more confident about your personal introduction, you can concentrate on building those relationships and having some fun.
Have a canapé for me.