Engaged Networking:

The alternative Elevator Pitch


If you like personal tips & tricks for presenting, networking and/or coaching, you can contact me through: info@laviniaes.com

September 5, 2014

Networking is very important for a business, whether it's your own or not. And since the summer season is closed, and we all have started to work again, here are some tips about networking and pitching.

Indeed, last Monday, I was at a training for the first 60 seconds. It was about the Elevator Pitch: short sighted saying: to fire off whatever you want to say, and then get the other one's business card to do business. I don't believe in it, since it doesn't always work that way. Why?

When your pitch, it is a one way traffic situation. The other person has no room to react, to tell their story, to be listened to (one of the most important aspects to get the other person's attention). People may not be listening, not be interested, and so they are probably not inclined to do business with you. But if they do, they often 'fall into it': a sales person talks the other person into a deal, and after, the buyer feels ripped off, trapped, and so forth. So a classic elevator pitch doesn't always work in my opinion. Sometimes it does, when you don't have much time, but often you do have more time then you think. So what then? 

Last Monday we discussed this in a small group, and we came up with the alternative elevator pitch. This pitch is based on the premise that a 'pitch' should be based on mutual dialogue, engaged, empathetic. You listen, because that's the best way to get the other person's attention. Really. If a dialogue is opened, and it's an interesting conversation, people will remember it better and are more inclined to follow up. So for that to happen, first there are some 'ground rules':

  1. Be authentic, be yourself. It's the best way. People will be able to tell if you're not.

  2. Show your passion. Be enthusiastic about your project/pitch.

  3. Be open and sincere.

  4. Be engaged and empathetic. Listen! Engage. And listen with care.

  5. If you're nervous, breathe 3 to 10 times deeply in and out before you step into it. And if it's really bad, you can also just say to the other person: 'I'm sorry to bother you, but I wanted to talk to you for a moment, but I'm quite nervous. So I will start with: how are you?'

  6. Remember the other person's name: use it while you're talking, when it is relevant.

  7. Prepare and practice in your mind beforehand.

  8. Remember: don't regret things you haven't done or said. Life is too short and fun for that! So act!

  9. Remember: you most of the time have more time then you think.

  10. Relax, have fun and use some humor.


Then there is the 'guideline' of the alternative elevator pitch we came up with. It's not a blueprint, and the tips & tricks can change in sequence.


  1. Open with a compliment, a low – key conversation, a joke. It makes the nerves relax, and you don't have to fire off immediately. The first impression is important, but not the most important one. If you make a mistake, carry on, because if in the end the conversation is nice, the person will remember the latter and think the first words / impression was because of you being nervous.

    1. Example 1: In July, I went over to Min. President Mark Rutte and started complementing him with his increasing concern for sustainability. I saw he felt recognized and the conversation started.

    2. Example 2: This wine is not so good. We will get a headache tomorrow morning if we drink too much. What do you think? (joke, low – key conversation).

    3. Example 3: I want to compliment you on your presentation. I found it really interesting.


  1. Bridge to your question/pitch.

    1. Example 1: Min. President: You remember Ralien Bekkers? I'm actually also working in sustainability and with also in the Young Club of Rome, like her...

    2. Example 2: Wine: Even though the wine isn't good.. we can talk over it about...

    3. Example 3: Presentation: But I had some questions....


  1. Introduce yourself: don't forget it! This can be between the #1 and the #2 or after the #2.

    1. Example 1: Min. President: Let me introduce myself/By the way, I'm …

    2. Example 2: Wine: By the way, I'm …

    3. Example 3: Presentation: I'm..


  1. Question / Dialogue: tell your story, and leave room open for conversation/dialogue. It works better than firing of in a one way situation. Start with an open / general question, but with a hint to where you want to go. Then drop the real question. If they feel the space, they will start asking themselves.

    1. Example 1: Min. President: I'm working in sustainability, through LES (short pitch about LES). Then he asked me some questions.... I here have my business card, with a website. He told me he would have a look at it.

    2. Example 2: Wine: So what do you think of sustainability? What's your view on it? What do you do? Dialogue... I'm doing.... maybe we can see if there is a connection between us?....

    3. Example 3: Presentation: So I had some questions about sustainability and your view on it. ….. Dialogue. I'm also working in sustainability, therefore I ask these questions. I see much overlap between our work.... leave room to react.


  1. Business cards: share them. Have a look when you receive one, to remember to conversation and the person.

    1. Example 1: Min. President: I gave mine, and left room open for him to give, if he even has one. But that wasn't my purpose. I wanted to show LES and wasn't after his own business card. Out of respect for his own decision whether to share his or not. But this is a special situation.

    2. Example 2: Wine: I have my business card here.... leave room to react. If they don't give one immediately, you can ask for his/hers.

    3. Example 3: Presentation. Same as the Wine.


  1. Follow up: follow up is very important. Do it the day or week after, when the conversation is fresh for you and the other. If you don't come up with what you want to write or say on the phone, you can think about it, discuss it with friends and colleagues.

    1. Example 1: Min. President: Someone gave the tip to send him a letter. I searched online how that works, sending a letter to a Minister President, and found that indeed, one can send a letter to him. I wrote a serious, but also humorist letter, with the urgency to connect and start a collaboration for sustainability.

    2. Example 2: Wine: If you agreed on something, you can write that in your email. You can send what you promised, or ask for a follow up meeting. You can also call before and then email.

    3. Example 3: Presentation: Same as the Wine situation, but you can also ask for the presentation, to remind him/her.


Off course this is not a one way guide, and you can come up with your own ideas and tips. Share them here, so we open the discussion.


If you like personal tips & tricks for presenting, networking and/or coaching, you can contact me through: info@laviniaes.com


Source: www.scribendi.com

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