Elevator speeches are important. But sometimes, we can overthink things. If according to the New York Times the average person knows 600 people, that’s quite a prospect pool. What needs to happen to start turning some of them into prospects? The answer is simpler than you think.
Everyone you know needs to know three simple things about you. Who you are, What you do and Why you are good. The first two are easy, because when you meet someone socially for the first time, the icebreaker question is usually “What do you do?” This is where the “elevator speech” comes into play. It needs to be short. Maybe it gets them asking you questions.
The third point is tougher, because you can’t easily weave it into an initial conversation. “I’m good because...” That’s a bit too much. This occurs over time when you drip on people with short, anonymous success stories. They ask “How’s business?” You briefly tell them how you helped someone. Sometimes helping someone is a life changing event. Other times, it’s having prevented them from making a bad mistake by offering advice.
You can see how this works in new situations, when you are meeting people for the first time. It’s tougher with current friends. You have plenty. A logical strategy is to find a quiet moment and take an interest in what they do. They will likely return the favor. If not, try a strategy that’s been around for decades: “We’ve known each other five years. You know I work at (firm). When you tell people about me, what do you say that I do?” Their off the cuff answer provides you with a starting point: “That’s part of what I do...”
What’s your objective? All these people might possibly become clients or to know someone who has potential. If a life situation falls across their path or if a friend of theirs tells them about a problem, you want them to think: “I know a guy...” The “why you are good” portion contributes to: “He helped someone with that problem before” or “He helps lots of people.”
Back to those 600 people. You want to know Who they are, What they do and Where they work. The Who is pretty easy. You know most by name. What they do is a little more complicated. You might know “She’s a lawyer” yet there are dozens and dozens of branches of the law. There’s another issue. Time flies. They might have moved up the corporate ladder. If they switched firms, you would probably know about that. If they took a lateral transfer, it might never come up. This is probably why your firm wants you to update client information periodically.
Where they work is important. It can be the gateway to other clients. Your LinkedIn research has identified certain people at their firm you want to meet. You can ask: “Do you know...” Sure, you could connect with your friend on LinkedIn, but face to face, friend to friend conversations can be more effective. Layoffs are an important consideration. You know about Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notifications, a.k.a. WARN notices. One day, you read about layoffs at their firm. Were they affected? You are concerned. They are your friend! You are relieved they weren’t. “Were any of your friends affected?” You can see where this is going.
It’s not hard to build a list of all the people you know. It’s surprisingly long. Do they each know those three things about you? Do you know those three things about them? For the latter, you can take that list and start writing job titles and firms next to their name. You are raising tactfully your visibility.