I hate the word “pitch!” It wreaks of hustle. It reminds me of something I don’t want. It sounds contrived, forced, and implies that you’re basically trying to sell something to someone, but neither listening to, or connecting with them. However, for the purpose of this article, pitch it is.
If you’ve been networking for awhile you probably know what I’m talking about. I bet you’ve had a total stranger approach you at a networking event only to hand you their business card and try to sell you something. I’m not quite sure why anyone would think that this is a good idea because it rarely ever works.
I’m thinking, “I don’t even know you… don’t you realize that people only do business with people they like and trust?” So, I stuff their card in my “throw away when I return to my office” pocket and move on. Their business card gets flushed! That’s what most networkers do when you first push your pitch on them without knowing them.
“Your ‘pitch’ is really just a sentence or such that begins the engagement; let the rest emerge naturally and conversationally. Regardless, it’s best to mention how you solve problems for people, and always address emotional needs – by conveying how you resolve troubling issues, or mentioning how clients feel after experiencing your work.” ~ Jonathan Bender
In networking the way to enrich your pitch is to withhold it. Never let the cat out of the bag until you are sure they want to buy a cat! 😉
The reason I say the way to enrich your pitch is to withhold it is because it is seldom a wise idea to give it until you have a relationship with the person you want to give it to. Instead, stop thinking so much about yourself and focus on asking lots of questions until you get enough information that may lead you to to know that this is someone I really want to get to know better. That’s what a great networker does. Get to know them. Build a relationship.
Dance around the topic of what YOU do and wait until you are ready to reveal exactly what you do. Make them want to know. Plant seeds as you ask more questions. Asking questions gives you an edge. It keeps you in control of the conversation. This is a great technique for people who go to networking events and don’t know what to say. Ask questions. Remember to LISTEN to their answers.
Recently as I was asking a couple of questions of someone I had just met and they interrupted me to ask, “What is it that you do?” I said, “Right now, I’m more interested in what you do,” and asked them another question. By the time I was finished asking them questions, they were excited to know more about what I do. They had developed a thirst for knowing in about 2 minutes. I later heard her tell someone how interesting it was to talk with someone that was interested in her nail salon business. We met several days later and after that I began referring her to the brides and grooms in my Wedding business.
Pitching is selling. That is a giant “no-no” at a networking meeting or event. It’s better to give your “elevator pitch” or as I call it, “your 30-second connection” without making it sound like an elevator pitch. Practice saying it different ways so it doesn’t sound canned.
So… withhold… wait until the right moment. Then, spill the beans. I utilize a couple of phrases depending on how the conversation goes. This allows me to follow up later in more detail depending on whatever grabbed them.
My own personal rule is: Withhold telling what I do until I know I want to get to know them better. At that time I will usually tell them only enough to get their interest, then arrange a time to get together to spill more beans.
Copyright © 2013 – Larry James. Adapted from Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Networking Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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