Entrepreneur Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
Introverts

Introverts Can Be Great Networkers These Days

Being an introvert is not a networking handicap and is an advantage these days of online networking due to social distancing and self-isolation while working from home. A common assumption is that a “people-to-person” is the best type of networker. But this isn’t necessarily true. Though introverts often eliminate themselves from networking because they aren’t good at initializing conversations, they are better at the part of networking that’s more important to the relationship-building process.

Networking is a two-part process. First, you have to meet someone new and share information about yourself. The extrovert may be better at this first part of the process when face-to-face; but the introvert is better at the second part — listening to the person he or she just met online. Plus, introverts are better at asking questions. Here are a few more tips for online networking and for working at home.

Introverts and Extroverts

So, if you are introverted, put down that book and reach out to others. Stop using that as an excuse not to network. There are many techniques you can use to make online networking easier and more natural for you to greet people and introduce yourself. Networking is a skill that can be learned — regardless of your level of gregariousness. Even if you’re not outgoing or gregarious, you can form meaningful relationships with others online and support each other’s businesses.

Furthermore, if you are extroverted, stop using your isolation from working from home as an excuse not to network. Most entrepreneurs depend directly on others and have a comfort level in dealing with people. For extroverts, referral-based online marketing is still one of the best ways to build your business these days.

Take advantage of online training workshops these days that you can do from the comfort of your home office. These can teach you how to online network effectively. You’ll find that when you learn ways to handle these situations, you’ll become more relaxed and confident in an online networking setting.

You don’t have to be a people person to network, you just have to be willing to listen. A good networker has two ears and one mouth and uses each proportionally. A good networker asks questions and gets to know the other person. Once you know the other person, it’s much easier to grow each other’s business.

working from home

Seven Tips for Working From Home

In the early 1980s, I spent one of several evenings in the home of an entrepreneurial couple who lived in the foothills of Los Angeles.  This couple would regularly invite people over to their home to talk.  Talk about what?  Everything.  Life, relationships, business, and most of all – the future.  It was an informal mastermind group of people who loved good wine, forward-thinking, and great conversation.  One night after an interesting discussion among that night’s guests, the husband invited me into his office (but not working from home back then) and showed me a fairly large rectangular hard-plastic box.  It was a box with a very small, 5” screen on it.  He turned it on and it lit up with bright yellow monochromatic characters that flashed on the screen.  He said – “It’s an Osborne!”   “An Osborne what?” I asked.  “An Osborne computer,” he said.

By today’s standards, this precursor to the personal computer wasn’t much to look at.   The least expensive mobile phones on the market today have infinitely more computing power than that big box on his desk.  Nevertheless, I was impressed.  More importantly, I remember the words he said next:  “This kind of technology will change the world and the way people do business in it,”  Clearly, I could see how computers would enhance the business but, I still didn’t understand what he meant.  He explained that this type of technology “will allow people to do business anywhere – even at home!”   This was a prophetic comment if ever there was one.

Working From Home Tips

working from home

Working from home has become more common, and sometimes like today – more necessary. So, if you’re working from home these days, here are some things to consider:

  1. Establish a dedicated area as your workspace.  It could be a room or just a table.  But that is your workspace.
  2. Focus.  Don’t get distracted.  Your home is now your office.  Treat your workspace like your office.  Structure your day like you would in an office.
  3. Use the technology that is at your fingertips.
    1. Teams, Zoom, GoToMeeting or any other platform that allows you to talk to people online.
    2. Here’s a crazy idea – talk to people using that 21st Century version of what Alexander Graham Bell invented – your telephone.
  4. That technology is great – but stay OFF social media unless it is directly work-related.
  5. Plan your day.  Schedule your work on your calendar, hour by hour.  This will help you stay focused and on track.
  6. Communicate your expectations and ground rules with anyone else that may be at home with you (toddlers and younger are an exception).
  7. Take breaks away from your “workspace” and go back to your workspace immediately after your break time is over.

Working from home can be productive, I know.  I’ve done it off and on for more than 35 years.  The trick is that you have to have a plan and work that plan… even when your work is also your home.

Gratitude

The Gratitude Effect

I recognize that when some people hear the phrase Attitude of Gratitude,” they are going to think, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, more new-age psychobabble, but we want hard facts.”  Well, I agree that hard facts are important and here are some from pretty reputable sources who argue convincingly about the science of gratitude’s positive impact.

The Benefits of Gratitude

  • Harvard Medical School recently reported that there have been multiple studies showing that people who express gratitude are “more optimistic and felt better about themselves.”
  • The Templeton Foundation conducted studies that showed that an “attitude of gratitude” can actually have a positive and “lasting effect on the brain.”
  • A paper published by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence concluded that “expressing gratitude completes [a] feeling of connection” with others (something I’d say is pretty important in building relationships).
  • Even neuroscientists argue that gratitude is effective. Paul Zak, professor at Claremont Graduate University states that “the neuroscience shows that recognition has the largest effect on trust. . .” Especially when it’s tangible, unexpected, personal, and public.
  • UC Berkley conducted fMRI scans on individuals who wrote gratitude letters and compared them to the fMRI scans of people who did not. They found that the people who wrote gratitude letters had a greater activation in the medial prefrontal cortex than those who did not write the letters. The medial prefrontal cortex is, among other things, believed to be an area of the brain that triggers responses to nicotine, drugs and alcohol. In other words, showing gratitude is proven to be a healthy way of getting high.
  • Studies by the Cicero Group that were published in Forbes found that people who are on the receiving end of gratitude have a 33% increase in their innovation, a 22% increase in work results, and they stay with the organization longer than those who are in companies who do not have a practice of appreciating their people.

So much for psychobabble. Gratitude improves attitude, feelings of connection, and results.  It’s not new-age; it’s science.

The Gratitude Effect works when someone is coming from a place of being grateful and acknowledging people along the way.  This means that it is important to take time to notice all the good things you might take for granted. Like so many other principles of success, it’s simple, but not easy, meaning that this is a simple concept – but it is not an easy concept to apply regularly in your life.  It’s not easy, because the easy thing is to notice what is wrong, what you don’t like, what annoys you, or the problems that you face.

Solutions Focused

What I have learned over the years is that if you focus on problems – you become a world-class expert at problems, and it is hard to show gratitude when you are obsessed with the problems around you.  However, if you focus on solutions, you can become a world-class expert at solving those problems.  This process begins by recognizing what is right around us.  From that starting point we can be grateful for those elements. Plus, begin to acknowledge those around us for the efforts they are making.  The Gratitude Effect requires a life-long journey of developing our ability to be grateful.

Expressing gratitude completes the feeling of connection with others. Here is how you can start this practice today: many people have helped us during our lifetime.  They are “in our story.”  Have you acknowledged them? Have you thanked them?  Have you recognized the difference they have made for you?

I recently heard a story from a woman whose sixteen-year old son pretty much stopped going to school. His grades began to fail, and he started drinking alcohol.  Worst of all, he was caught stealing a car and joy riding late at night.  She told me that he was making some really poor life decisions and that she was beside herself with what to do.

She decided to send him to a leadership conference to see if that would help take his life in a new direction.  At first, he said, “no” but around the holidays, he said that if this was that important to her, he “would do it for her.”

He attended the multi-day event and came home telling her that the event was amazing.  He learned that people matter.  Decisions matter.  The people around you matter.  She told me that one of the speaker’s at that event had a particularly large impact on the young man.  Then she reached out to the speaker from that event and told him the story.  Expressing her gratitude for the impact that his talk had on her son’s life.  She told him “you gave me my son back.”  The speaker was so moved that he sent a video message to the young man telling him how grateful he was that he said something that the boy found helpful and that he was proud to be a small part of that. What’s more, the young man replied and told him a little about the life that he was now creating for himself.

The Gratitude Effect doesn’t take much effort and costs little or nothing. However, it makes a difference in yourself and the people around you. When you acknowledge people in this way, people are drawn to you like a magnet. This accelerates the relationship-building process. As the story above shows, the Gratitude Effect can come full circle and then continue to spiral off in new, impactful directions. Believe me.  It is science.

humility

Humility Makes For a Great Networker

Humble people don’t think less of themselves, they just think of themselves less.  Some of the best networkers I know are humble.  In fact, many of the most successful people I’ve ever met have been remarkably humble.  Humility and being successful don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

In my late teens, I remember going to a political function.  I had decided that I wanted to pour myself into a campaign for a particular individual whose platform I appreciated.  Then… I met him and was introduced to him by someone high up in his campaign.  As soon as he learned that I was a lowly college student, I almost immediately lost his attention.  His eyes were darting across the room looking for someone more successful than me.  He ended up being very dismissive and came across as incredibly arrogant.  After that encounter, I decided not to help in his campaign.  Instead, I picked someone running for a different office.  This person was engaging and friendly.  He was respectful of people that didn’t “appear” to have much to offer.  Speaking with everyone, rich or poor, educated or uneducated.  He welcomed my involvement in his campaign.  Within six months, I ended up running his entire regional campaign office.  I put in hundreds of hours in that campaign and helped this person win office.  This experience taught me a lot about the kind of leader I wanted to be as I became more successful in life.

Humility costs nothing but yields amazing returns.  Being humble sounds simple enough, but what does that actually look like?  There are many things that can help someone show their humility.  Here is a list of a few traits of being humble that I think are important.

Humility Traits:

  1. First and foremost, their ego does not enter the room before they do.
  2. They are approachable, meaning that they are friendly and easy to talk to.
  3. A humble person listens and asks questions during a conversation.
  4. Maintain eye contact in a conversation and stay engaged in the discussion. This shows genuine interest.
  5. They are comfortable making people feel at ease and thanking people when appropriate.
  6. Humble individuals tend to have an “abundance mentality” and they tend to focus on solutions rather than simply rail about problems.
  7. Be situationally aware and have strong emotional intelligence.
  8. They are not self-absorbed. They know their strengths and are comfortable with who they are, but they don’t behave as though the world revolves around them.
  9. Most importantly, they practice what I call “Givers Gain®.” They approach life with a certain amount of altruism and strive to make a difference for others.

As we become more successful in life, it’s critical to maintain one’s humility.  We’ve all met people whose ego enters the room before they do.  They behave in a pompous manner and generally expect to be the center of attention most of the time.  In the long run, I don’t believe this serves people well.

No one is perfect with this all the time.  The process is a journey, not a destination.  It is something we must always strive for.  At large networking events, I know that I’ve had a good day when people share with me that they are surprised at how easy I was to talk to or that they felt that I came across like a regular person.  I believe that there is a “regular person” in all of us.  Showing that person to others is part of being humble.

If you achieve success in business, strive to shatter people’s expectations and demonstrate real humility.  Be someone who is engaging and caring, as well as knowledgeable and successful. Above all, remember that humble people don’t think less of themselves, they just think of themselves less.

garage to global

Garage to Global ® – Another Four Lessons

I literally built my business from operating out of my garage to a global enterprise with over 9400 BNI chapters in more than 70 countries all around the world. Overall, I have twelve lessons for you that I’ve learned from taking my business literally garage to global. I’ve covered eight so far in previous blogs.

Here are the final four lessons on how I took BNI literally from my garage to global organization

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

I think culture is the secret sauce to a successful organization. Your organizational culture is critical to your success. If you are part of a company that has a horrible culture and an amazing strategy, you’re not going to do well. However, if you are part of a company with an amazing culture and a really good strategy, you are going to be the industry leader.

Know your mission.

Get really clear about what your mission is. The mission of BNI is to help members increase their business through a structured, positive and professional referral program that enables them to develop long-term, meaningful relationships and referrals

Work in your flame, not in your wax.

Do the things you’re passionate about, and hire people to the stuff you hate doing. When you’re in your flame you’re doing things you love to do. When you’re working in your wax it’s taking all your energy away. There are times we may have to work in your wax. However, as soon as possible, you will want to hire somebody who your wax is their flame and they’re excited to do that.

Share a vision that everyone is striving towards.

BNI has dominated its industry in almost every market for decades because of a shared vision and a shared implementation of that vision. Vision is where you want to go and your mission is how you want to get there. BNI’s vision is “Changing the Way the World Does Business”.

So, these are the final four of my twelve lessons on how I took BNI literally from my garage to global organization. If you missed them, here are the links to the first blog and the second blog in this series.

garage to global

Garage to Global ® – The Next Four Lessons

35 years ago, I started BNI literally in my garage and in a small room above my garage. I am truly an example of taking a business from a garage to global company. I am sharing this month twelve lessons that I’ve learned from scaling my company and making it grow globally. These are things that I did not necessarily learn in college to take my business literally from my garage to a global enterprise.

Here are another four lessons on how to scale your business.

Know your numbers to go from Garage to Global.

You must get really good with your numbers and you got to have those kinds of numbers. I’d recommend weekly reports that you want to make sure to generate so that you can eyeball how you’re doing. You cannot hit a future goal if you do not know how you’re doing today. The key numbers that will determine whether you’re going in the right direction or in the wrong direction.

Do six things a thousand times, not a thousand things six times.

If you want to be successful in business, focus on doing six things 1000 times. In BNI, it’s what we call “three plus one.” It is adding members, adding chapters, filling chapters and telling stories. Those are the key performance indicators for chapters. New BNI members should work on their networking education by reading books, watching YouTube videos, and having 121 meetings with people you really trust. Be a dog with a bone because persistence is a superpower.

Surround yourself with great people.

Look for the people who have values that are congruent with the values that you have. I’d recommend my book, “Who’s in Your Room?” It’s all about understanding your values and surrounding yourself in your room with the right people. If you have someone working for you who is not the right fit for you and your business, you’ve got to be able to let them go quickly.

Ignorance on fire is better than knowledge on ice.

As a new business, hire people with a great attitude and teach them. I prefer to hire somebody who is coachable and excited to be working for me. It’s okay to find ignorance on fire and coach them on how to do their job. When you do that, they will become very loyal to you because you’ve spent the time, mentoring and coaching them.

So these are another four lessons in how to take your business from “Garage to Global”. If you missed it, here is the link to the first blog in this series. This is all part of the garage the global material from a recent BNIpodcast that I’m working on right now for a future book. There’s more to come next week.

Garage to Global

Garage to Global ®

I am introducing today a concept I am calling garage to global. I literally built my business from operating out of my garage to a global enterprise with over 9400 BNI chapters in more than 70 countries all around the world. How did I do that? Well, first and foremost, I created a plan that I applied over the past 35 years of consecutive growth in the organization.

I want to share twelve lessons with you that I’ve learned from scaling my company and making it grow globally. These are things that I did not necessarily learn in college to take my business literally from my garage to a global enterprise.

Here are the first four lessons I learned to go Garage to Global in this video:

Learn to work on your business, not just in your business.

You have to learn how to work on your business, not just in your business. The difference is when you are “working on the business”, you are managing it strategically. When you are “working in the business”, you are doing all the work yourself. You have to learn how to be an entrepreneur. I was there, “working in the business” for a long time, but the quicker you get to be “working on the business”, the more successful you are going to be. Please read “The E-Myth” by Michael Gerber if you’re not familiar with this concept.

Create systems and write them down.

One of the secrets, I believe, to the success of my company was creating systems. You have to create systems processes, and then you have to write these systems down. Finally, you have to teach others what you have written down. Because learning is a leaky bucket process, stuff leaks out, unless it’s written down and done consistently.

Reverse-engineer your goals.

First, you need to set goals. You cannot hit a target you are not aiming at. I set my goals at three different levels. It’s a great technique to use when creating goals. I think goals are extremely important. But what we are often not taught in school is the importance of reverse engineering your goals. If you have a goal for the end of the year, where do you need to be at the end of each month between January and December?  Finally, you should review your monthly goals at the end of every month. This comparison will tell you right away, how are you doing? Are you “on track” or “way off.” And that’s way too late. And so the reverse engineering your goals is a critical element of scaling your business.

Delegate both responsibility and authority.

You have to learn how to delegate effectively. We tend to only delegate responsibility but we don’t delegate authority. That means someone who is responsible, but they also have the authority to make the decisions. Everyone you delegate should have 95% authority in that position. Don’t worry if people make a mistake. They will. It’s inevitable. You just need to be prepared to coach and guide them when that happens.

And so that’s a very short lesson on how I took BNI literally from my garage to a global organization. This is all part of the “Garage to Global” material from a recent BNIpodcast that I’m working on for a future book. There’s more to come. I will be posting the second and third blogs of this three-part series later in the month.

Secrets to Getting Referrals

Secrets to Getting Referrals

Networking groups can definitely help businesses generate referrals.  When attending referral-related networking groups, remember that your efforts should not focus on trying to “close a sale. If you want to get business from the fellow members of your networking group, educate these people about some of the specifics of your business and what to look for in order to refer you effectively. Here are some secrets to getting referrals to consider for educating people in your networking groups:

Train your Sales Force

Do not generalize

I have heard hundreds of thousands of introductions at business networking events in my 20 years of running a business referral organization. Many people, when outlining what type of referrals they want, use the words “anyone,” “someone” or “everyone.” I don’t recommend it. It is also important to remember that if you are in a group that meets weekly, your presentation should focus on something different each time in order to continue the educational process.

Bring support materials

Have something visual for members to view or leave with. Your chances of staying in their minds long after the day’s meeting are increased. A flier about a product sale or a newsletter from your company are good items to bring. You might also bring samples of an item you carry in your store or place of business.

Break your business down into keywords

When introducing yourself, break your business down into keywords. Each week you focus on simply one aspect of your business. In other words, break your business down into very small pieces. What are the words others will use as search terms about your industry? These are your keywords. You may be tempted to use broad approach-listing all the areas your business covers. Instead, consider that your fellow networkers will learn more about you if you explain one aspect of your business weekly at each meeting.

If you want to get referrals from your networking efforts, remember to train your sales force and provide them the support material they will need to find others searching for you based on your keywords. Chances are, you’ll see a noticeable difference in your results.

Getting Along

The Importance of Getting Along With Others

When I was very young, my mother gave me a paperweight that said, “Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way.” She went on to say, “Honey, I love you but you are a bull in a china shop; you just run people over. You have to learn how to work with people.” This advice was a major influence on me for the rest of my life. Think back to your elementary school report card and how it graded you on your ability to play well with others. Well, things haven’t changed. I believe your success in business, and particularly your success at networking, means that you need to learn how to collaborate — or in other words, getting along with others.

You can’t always choose who comes to the playground, and you won’t always get a say in who you’re working with. Why do you have to be friends with everybody? You don’t even have to like everybody. It’s also important to recognize that different personalities add different perspectives and that, when managed well, can actually make a group more productive.

Do not allow other people to control your actions. This begins with some tolerance, a frequently invoked word that’s under-used in practice. Remember, keep your eye on the ball and try not to be too sensitive about those difficult people. Here are some techniques that will help you with this process.

Here are 5 things to consider when you’re talking to a difficult person

  • Listen without arguing.
  • Ask questions. Not argumentative questions, but questions that will give you more insight into their point of view.
  • Show interest in their point of view. You don’t have to agree with it to show interest. Trust me on this one.
  • If you can, get them to focus on the solutions to the issue and not just the problem. If all we do is focus on the problem, we become an expert on problems. Say to them: I get it, I see the issue. Now, the real question: What’s a realistic solution. If they offer a lousy solution, then say, “OK, that’s one possibility. What’s another realistic solution?” Coach them toward calmness.
  • Clear, open, honest and direct communication is the best way to deal with difficult people or other people who are dealing with them. Every time I’ve had big challenges with people, one side or the other held back in their communication. That doesn’t mean unload on people. It means to talk to them professionally.

Six suggestions to be aware of when there is a difficult person in your group

  • Make yourself invaluable to people by focusing on solutions.
  • Stay clear of drama and rise above fray by checking your emotions and focusing on results.
  • Don’t complain. Be positive. Complaining is not an Olympic sport.
  • Stay aware of your emotions, and don’t let others limit your success.
  • Use your support system. Talk to others about the solution.
  • Be a leader, not a leaver.

Don’t let their craziness drive you in a direction you don’t want to go. As Lisa Earle McLeod says in her book, The Triangle of Truth, “I discovered that what actually puts us over the edge towards craziness ourselves is not other people’s dysfunctions; it’s their denial of their dysfunctions. You know, how they go out acting all normal, and even self-righteous as if we’re the ones who are loopy.”

Don’t let others control your success. Leaving an opportunity (or a network) because someone is being difficult gives them leverage over you and it gives them free rein to lord over others. Don’t give away that power.

new entrepreneur

New Entrepreneur Networking Tips

As a new entrepreneur, one of your primary goals is to continue to fill your pipeline with new business. One of the most cost-effective ways to do this is through networking. One of the biggest roadblocks to networking is the fear that being a new entrepreneur impedes any successful attempts at networking.  Here are a few networking tips for a new entrepreneur:

Become the host

Volunteer to be an ambassador or visitor host for a local business networking event. This can be a great way to get involved without leaving your comfort zone. By serving as a visitor host at your local chamber event, you effectively become the host of the party. Try it! You’ll find it much easier to meet and talk to new people.

Build your social capital at your desk

Online networking is a very effective way to connect with potential clients and referral sources. Social media has made it easier than ever before to connect with large numbers of people. Online networking gives new entrepreneurs a broad reach with low cost and effort. However, what online networking doesn’t do is provide a forum where relationships can deepen. It’s usually better to use social media with people only after you’ve established a relationship with them by traditional means. To develop trust, respect, and true friendship, it’s hard to beat in-person conversation.

Offer advice to break the ice

If you’re not sure how to break the ice, you might want to start by offering some free professional advice. It is possible to offer some value-added advice without coming across too sales-y.  Sharing free advice will demonstrate your expertise as a new entrepreneur. Give your prospects a couple of ideas. Don’t go overboard. When it comes to building rapport and trust, few things do it better than solid, helpful information provided out of a genuine concern for the other person.

Become a trusted source for quality referrals and contacts

Another way a new entrepreneur can ease into networking is to provide a referral or contact. This could be a direct referral (someone you know who’s in the market for another person’s services) or a solid contact (someone who might be helpful down the road).

Most new entrepreneurs, over time, naturally develop a certain level of comfort from dealings with customers, vendors, and others in their day-to-day transactions. So even people who are new to networking can form meaningful relationships and communicate with a little practice.

three P's

The Three P’s Of a Great Entrepreneur

There are a variety of factors and circumstances that go into the making of a great entrepreneur. However, there are a few personality traits that will help you make the most of any and every situation you find yourself in, and that could prove the difference between success and failure. It is important to reiterate that there is no sure guarantee to success. However, with the three P’s in your arsenal, failing will not remain an option.

See if you have these three P’s, which have been found to be the hallmark of all great entrepreneurs.

Passion

Passion is the prerequisite for success in almost any aspect of life. Especially when being an entrepreneur comes with the promise of long hours and problems to deal with every day. Only passion can motivate you to keep at your dream in spite of all the hurdles in your way. There is no guarantee that you will be realizing your dream at the end of the journey. Then again, as an entrepreneur, the journey can be never-ending, and your passion is what will see you through it all.

Persistence

What is the reason 90% of startups fail to continue beyond their initial years? Lack of persistence could be the answer. It takes persistence to survive the critical early years and overcome the challenges that every entrepreneurial initiative is bound to go through. Many believe that securing your funding and starting out is It. However, reality proves that this is only the first step. Unless you keep at it through all the hurdles that you face, you will only be a statistic in the course of history.

Problem Solver

The third most important thing that can make a difference in your success is your attitude towards problems. A lot has been said about this, but it might not be enough. As an entrepreneur, one thing you will find yourself doing a lot will be solving problems. The experience of most great entrepreneurs has shown that unconventional thinking and the ability to take calculated risks is what matters at critical junctures.

Luckily passion also means that work will not feel like work, just the way of life; and happiness at doing what you love will enrich the experience.  Your passion will guide your ability to persist. So the greater your passion for your chosen idea, the higher will be your ability to persist at it till you succeed. Only if you are good at problem-solving and able to find the right people along the way to help you will you ever be successful.

Elevator Pitch

Seven Rules for an Elevator Pitch

I used to hate the expression “elevator pitch.” It just drove me crazy. But now that everybody’s using it all over the world, I officially give up and am going to go with it. The metaphor developed out of the hypothetical that you are literally in an elevator with one minute or less to say who you are and what you do. What would you say? I want you to keep in mind that this is not a sales pitch; it is a creative and succinct way to generate interest in the listener.

With that in mind, here are my seven rules for creating an engaging elevator pitch:

Don’t do your elevator pitch in an actual elevator.

An unsolicited pitch in an elevator is basically face-to-face cold calling. I’ve been a victim. Don’t be a perpetrator. Unless someone asks what you do, just say “good day” to them. The elevator pitch is meant to be taken out of the elevator and into the right environment.

Make it tight.  

It needs to be short. This is a quick pitch, not a reading from War and Peace. Your pitch should be more like a work of art than a science project. It should be succinct and expressive, something you practice carefully and present cohesively and professionally. You also need to be natural. You want to rehearse, but not sound rehearsed, and avoid sounding staged and canned.

K.I.S.S.

Keep it simple. Don’t try to explain everything you do in the short amount of time you have. It will either be too much information (breaking rule number two) or too vague to be of any value. By keeping your elevator pitch simple, you have more of a chance to catch the listener’s attention, engage them with your creativity and create interest in your product or service.

Don’t use jargon.

If at any point someone has to say, “What does that mean?” you have officially lost them. Push the button for the next floor and exit now. (I know, you’re not really on an elevator, but you have really lost them.)

Share your USP.

A USP is your Unique Selling Proposition. One example of how to craft a pithy USP is to alter a bland, general statement such as, “I’m a coach and consultant” to something like, “I help people work less, make more and create referrals for life” instead. This is short, powerful and informative, i.e. the perfect combination for part of an effective elevator pitch.

Consider starting out with precisely how your listener will benefit.

My friend, communications expert Andy Bounds, calls this “the afters.” For your elevator pitch, this could be something as simple as, “I help people increase their sales by 33 percent, improve their closing ratio to 80 percent or double the number of new clients they take on per month.” In other words, focus on the “after” effect of the product or service you provide.

Pass the eyebrow test.

Another good friend, Sam Horn, author of Someday is Not a Day of the Week, writes about the “eyebrow test.” If what you say in your elevator pitch causes the listener’s eyebrows to go up, you’ve got ’em! You’ve left the listener wanting more, and that’s precisely what you want to accomplish. On the other hand, if the listener’s eyebrows scrunch down, you’ve just confused them. Find a new pitch.

Keeping these seven rules in mind when you create an elevator pitch will set you apart from the crowd. Now it’s time to press “Open Door.”

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