I’ve always been told that networking is a very important skill to grow business connections, find sponsors and meet prospective donors. By far most of the networking experts I’ve met talk about the importance of the “elevator pitch”. Stephen Melanson’s presentation of verbal branding at the Networking for Nonprofit’s Fun Night Out was illuminating. Here is a quote from the presentation:
“Please remember an elevator pitch might be the single worst idea in the history of modern society. Feel free to fight with me on that one.”
A transcript is below the video.
OK, curiosity, who wants to help me out? When I tell people I teach verbal branding, what do you suppose people say to me? Unbelievable, you guys are good. Literally true, and it happens about 99% of the time. Now the reason I bring this up, is because this is part of the dynamics of a conversation we’re talking about verbal branding right now. The conversational dynamic of curiosity is a non-negotiable for you to raise money, to get sponsors, to everything you want to do. If people are not genuinely curious when you tell them what you do that means your brand needs to be better. It must be more interesting and people must be curious, genuinely curious, to hear more immediately. Ok, that’s a conversational dynamic.
Context, who’s heard of Gentle Dental? This (part of) is our country that’s almost everybody. This is a perfect — perfect example, of context and we’re talking about branding. You know something, they drill your teeth too. Right? They hang things out of your mouth, you’re in an uncomfortable position in the chair, ready to run down the street. Right? But their context is that they’re gentle. It makes them different and better than the dentist down the street. You need that. I need that. The context of what you’re offering it should have value. I’m going to talk more about just a couple minutes. But them drilling your teeth is more valuable to the consumer, than the guy down the street, or the lady down the street, because they’re gentle, ok?
Managing interactions, this is where the rubber hits the road. I use this pyramid shape, and you’ll see that this makes sense from a logic standpoint and by the time I’m done with people this is all they think about is the shape and organizing their interactions around it. It’s two things. It’s everything about an organization and I mean everything. Most important at the top, lest important at the bottom. It’s also a conversation of any length and that’s how we’re going to treat it right now. Different and better, remember my definition? How are you different and better than the competition. Period, you need those ideas, or you lose in sponsorships and money and identity and all the things you want. One or two concepts at most, that’s the rule and I give you five seconds to be able to tell somebody how you’re different and better. Can you guys do that right now? Maybe?
OK, five seconds, now who’s heard of an elevator pitch? I’ve talked to some or you already about this. Who has not heard of an elevator pitch? Everyone’s taught the elevator pitch. Right? Please remember an elevator pitch might be the single worst idea in the history of modern society. Feel free to fight with me on that one. And I’m totally serious about it. It is exactly the wrong way to do it. It’s exactly the wrong mind set and you should avoid it for the rest of your life, do everybody a favor, mostly yourself. Here’s the thing, here’s the three reasons why an elevator pitch, I’m just going to tell you real quick. To long, thirty seconds is what most people are taught. Way to long, that’s a crazy long time to introduce what you’re doing. Way to long, people are already gone five seconds in. They also are not oriented towards positioning versus the competition. They are always description oriented and describe what you do, wrong way to do it. But the most important reason is that is not the leading edge of a strategy to go through the rest of the interaction. I don’t care if it’s five minutes or five days.
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