Elevator pitch starts with a handshakeNetworking is an important part of finding customers. Is the way you introduce yourself helping land those customers?

When it comes to getting people’s attention, “You have about as much time as it takes to start your car,” speaker Kevin Smith (aka The Story Architect) told members of IABC/Toronto’s Professional Independent Communicators at the Perfect Pitch session May 6. “After five to seven seconds, people stop paying attention.”

Say something interesting, though, and you’ll have another 23 seconds or so to convey what you do.

Kevin advised us to tailor our “elevator speeches” or pitches by following the CPU approach:

C = Customer
Position yourself based on the customer you want. Write down your top two customers and come up with a pitch targeting each one.

P = Problem/pain point
What is the customer’s pain? What causes it? What’s the effect? The more you can tie what you do to a problem your customers have, the more likely they are to see your value.

U = Unique selling point
What are you really good at and what do you most enjoy? What’s unique about you that helps you solve your customer’s problem? (Tip: Ask your customers why they hire you.)

Once you’ve thought through your CPU, you need to add a hook. This is something unusual or memorable, or a statement that piques curiosity. For instance, when Kevin introduces himself as a “story architect,” it’s both memorable and prompts people to ask about it.

Kevin had us all write down our CPUs and hooks. Although most of us kept them to ourselves, quite a few people I spoke with later admitted Kevin had prompted them to re-think their own elevator speeches. I’m pondering my own.

What’s your elevator speech?

Related posts:
Networking? You need a business card
Networking Queen shows IABC how it’s done

Image: Luigi Diamanti and FreeDigitalPhotos.net.