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The Most Avoidable Mistake of All Time

How do you not see that coming?

Lin-Manuel Miranda talks about his inspiration in Judd Apatow’s book Sicker in the Head.

“[Hamilton’s] son died in a duel, and then [Hamilton]┬ádied in a duel in the same place three years later… It felt like the most avoidable mistake of all time.”

And it gets me thinking about your Elevator Pitch.

Because there are a lot of surprises lurking as you grow your business.

But there is one thing you can absolutely count on – at any networking event – you will eventually need to answer that most dreaded question: “So, what do you do?”

Not having a solid answer to this question may well be the most avoidable mistake of all time.

The Question – “What do you do”

This question contains two opportunities and one challenge.

The Challenge – Respond in 7 words

The challenge is to respond in 7 to 10 words.

Yup – the goal is to start a conversation, and you can’t start a conversation if you’re doing all the talking.

You want 7 – 10 words that are quick to say, roll off your tongue, and take advantage of two networking opportunities.

Opportunity #1 – Be Oddly Specific

The first opportunity is to clearly define a good introduction for you.

The more specific the better.

“But,” I can hear you thinking, “I don’t want to limit my options – it’s better to appeal to a wide audience.”

That makes intuitive sense – and it’s wrong. It’s also the most common cause for frustration in business networking.

Because people connect with specifics.

The owner of a cleaning company doesn’t consider herself a “small to medium size business.”

And when you say that you work with landscapers, two things happen.

  1. She’ll think of the landscapers she knows and can introduce to you
  2. She’ll ask if your compelling solution would work for a cleaning company

The same happens when you tell a lawyer you work with accountants or a fractional CFO that you work with CEOs.

Being oddly specific leads to more introductions and encourages people to pre-qualify themselves as a prospect.

Opportunity #2 – The Pillow Talk Test

Nobody wakes up in the morning and whispers to their spouse:

“Honey, today’s the day! We’re going to achieve our financial goals.”

Nobody talks that way.

What do they say?

“Let’s open a 529 for Doug’s college fund.”

“I’m going to close this important sale for my business.”

“We’re only two months away from booking our trip to Italy!”

When your Elevator Pitch contains phrases that people actually say to each other, your connections will recognize those as good introductions for you.

Want better introductions? Make sure your Elevator Pitch is oddly specific and passes the Pillow Talk Test.


Still getting blindsided at networking events?

“What do you do” is only one question that trips people up.

Join us Tuesdays in October as we work through the Business Networking Cheat Sheet.

It’s a one-pager that contains every question you’ll ever be asked while networking – and we’re going to take you step-by-step through crafting your own personalized answers so you start better conversations, meet the right people, and expand your referral network.

Reserve your spot now to get the early bird pricing.

Click here for the full details of October’s Elevator Pitch Workshop.

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