Don't Miss Another Opportunity

by Joseph Kwon in


Have you ever been right next to someone you wanted to meet and froze? Or by the time you figured out what to say the moment, and your chance slipped through your fingers like a rogue ice cube? Have you ever had someone ask you about yourself and in your shock or excitement, a barely comprehensible avalanche of words tumbled out of your mouth?

All of the above has happened to me at some point. If you are anything like me, a few things occurred afterwards. First, I beat myself up. Second, the "perfect" thing to say came to mind...alas...way too late. And finally, I promised myself I wouldn't let this happen again.

An elevator speech is a tried and true solution to communicate about yourself in a brief amount of time. For instance, about the amount of time you have together with someone on the elevator. Essentially, it's like a "commercial" about you. The idea is you have this in your back pocket so you can call on it at a moment's notice.

Here are a few EZPZ tips on creating your own elevator speech, as well as how to keep the conversation going if the opportunity arises.

1. Prepare a one sentence introduction of you as a solution.

In the context of explaining the value you provide, your title or position is actually not that helpful. In fact, sometimes I intentionally don't mention I'm a lawyer to avoid all the lame lawyer jokes. Instead, think of a way to explain how your actions benefit those you serve.

Let's try an example. You are an accountant and process tax returns for individuals and you have a chance encounter with the CFO who asks you, "what do you do?"

Fail:  I'm an accountant and I help prepare individual tax returns.

Pass: I take the dread out of April 15.

So now that the elevator speech is out of the way, if your partner seems engaged and open to hearing more...

2. Tell a signature story with an interesting narrative

We all have at least one. It's a story that makes other people laugh or pleasantly surprises them. Maybe a bit edgy, but never controversial. Or for a more organic approach, it's something interesting that happened to you or which you observed recently. 

Now if, and only if, it seems you are moving into a full blown conversation, time to stop talking about yourself and learn more about the other person so...

3. Ask an open-ended question about the listener.

All open-ended questions are not created equal. I find that "how" and "why" questions create more opportunity for conversation to flow than "who, what, when, or where." That's because even though they are all open-ended questions, "who, what, when, and where" still lend themselves to one-word answers whereas "how and why" typically result in a more detailed response. For example...

You: So where did you work before you came here?

CFO: Becton Dickinson.

vs.

You: Why did you decide to join our company?

CFO: I used to work with your CEO at Becton Dickinson. In fact, he recruited me straight out of college and...

So before your next chance encounter, come up with your elevator speech and don't miss another EZPZ opportunity to connect with someone. Good luck!

Next post Saturday, 6:30 a.m.