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An elevator pitch is the term used to describe a brief speech you can use as an introduction to a prospective business client -- roughly the amount of time a standard elevator ride takes. An elevator pitch must be clear and comprehensive and should include your unique selling proposition, or what makes you different. The pitch can be used at networking events, to introduce yourself in a business setting or if you come across a colleague or prospect you're interested in interacting with.
Who You Are
The beginning of your elevator pitch should be accompanied by a handshake and a quick overview of who you are. For example, “Hi, my name is John Smith. I'm a marketing manager with ABC company. I've heard a lot of great things about your organization and I'm glad to have the opportunity to finally meet you in person.”
What You Do
Describe what you or your company does and why it might be interesting or important to the individual you're addressing. For example, “We recently launched a comprehensive approach to integrating all social media marketing platforms for clients. I know your organization has always been at the forefront of utilizing social media as a form of public outreach, and I think some of what we're working on would be greatly beneficial to your business.”
Engage the Other Person
Draw the person you’re speaking to into the conversation by asking an open-ended question related to the information you just provided. For example, “How do you currently integrate your social media venues?” This allows the other person the opportunity to consider how what you’ve just discussed might be of use to his company and provides an opening to start a more in-depth dialogue.
Make Your Pitch
Wrap up your pitch by proposing a time to meet and talk more, either in person or by phone. For example, “I'd love to take you out for coffee next week and show you some examples of what we're working on to see how it might benefit your company,” or, “I can stop by your office anytime Thursday to give you a quick presentation. Is there a time that works best for you?” At the very least, ask for a business card and offer one in return and thank the person for his time.
After the Pitch
Follow up on any promising interaction as soon as possible. For example, if you met someone at a business function, send a quick email the next day to follow up on your conversation, and if you promised additional information, send that along as well. Continually evaluate your elevator pitch and have several different versions worked out in your head to apply in different situations.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.