You may have the greatest 30-second elevator speech in the world, but it’s how and when you use your this tool that makes the difference in how others respond to you.  Starting a conversation with your elevator speech may reward you with a big yawn.  Prime the pump a bit and start the flow of conversation to improve reception to your message.

A few tips will get you started.

  1. Be the best listener you can be.  Who do you think is the best communicator in your social group?  Most likely it’s not the person who talks the most.  It’s the person who focuses on you, really listens to what you have to say, and follows up with good questions.  This method of communicating with others applies to professional networking, too.
  2. Focus all of your attention on the other person.  There’s nothing worse than talking with someone who is looking over your shoulder for a “better” contact.
  3. Use active listening skills:  These skills will establish greater rapport with others.  There are three levels of listening skills.
  • Competitive:  At this level of listening, you are more interested in promoting yourself than in listening to the other person.  While the other is talking, you are formulating your response rather than really hearing what he or she is saying.  This is a “surface” conversation.
  • Focused:  At this level you are focused on what the other has to say.  You’re listening and hearing what is said at a deeper level.  The focus is on them, not you.  The chatter in your head diminishes and doesn’t block your “hearing” what the other person is communicating.  Mastering this level of listening will reward you with a deeper understanding of what is being said.
  • Active:  At this stage you’re really cooking.  You’re  interested in what the other person is saying, thinking, and feeling.  You clarify and develop a deeper understanding of the other’s message by reflecting or paraphrasing what he or she says.  You demonstrate your understanding by responding with comments or asking questions to further the conversation.

An effective networker will stay in levels two and three and integrate their elevator speech into the conversation at the time that is most appropriate… when the receiver is in position to receive.

A brief but embarrassing example…

Several years ago, I was involved with establishing a student chapter of an IT association in the Greater Cleveland area.  My goal was to create new contacts in the IT community to develop internships.  I can still remember encountering the CEO of a new and very hot software company.  I immediately hit him with my pitch and then waited with anticipation for him to respond.  Imagine my chagrin when he said, “You’re certainly passionate about it” and walked off.  I totally turned him off by being pushy and not priming the pump before I pursued my agenda.

Learn from my mistake and prime the pump by developing the conversation before working in your elevator speech.  It will sound more natural and increase your potential for establishing a lasting contact.

Reprint Rights: You may reprint this article as long as you leave all of the links active, do not edit the article in any way, and give the author name credit.

Copyright 2010 – Dumont Gerken Owen, Ph.D.  All Rights Reserved.

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