A version of this article previously appeared in Forbes.
Accomplished entrepreneurs appreciate the importance of crafting a succinct, well rehearsed description of their venture. This concise summary can be comfortably told during the duration of a reasonably brief elevator ride. Hence the term "elevator pitch."
In contrast, a Personal Pitch differs from the classic elevator pitch, as the focus is on you and not your venture.
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Elevator pitches are great vehicles for communicating with potential investors and other professional stakeholders. However, the Personal Pitch is more appropriate in less formal networking environments.
Too often in social situations, entrepreneurs launch into a diatribe about their companies, when the person they are speaking with is more interested in better understanding the person with whom they are chatting. I learned this firsthand, as my wife frequently elbowed me in the ribs early in my startup career, as I was prone to drone on about my startups, long beyond the point that even the most gracious listener had glazed over.
Acquaintances in social situations want to help other people. They don't want to suffer through a startup pitch. Thus, exposing who you really are can lead to significant relationships that can further your career and otherwise help your startup succeed. Who knows? You might also make some lifelong friendships along the way.
The three components of an effective Personal Pitch are:
1. Who you are – your interests, experiences, education, why you are so bloody interesting
2. Where you are going – your bombastic, fascinating entrepreneurial dreams
3. How you plan to get there – your short-term tactics and long-term strategies for turning your dreams into reality
Force yourself to answer these questions in a contemplative manner. You might be surprised with the results.
Once you have sufficiently answered these questions, rehearse your responses with friends and family. There is no substitute for such role playing, as it will ensure that you will be ready when opportunity knocks at your next networking gathering.
Businesses are built upon a series of conversations. In order to ensure your interactions are as productive as possible, make it easy for people to help you. If the people you meet don't know who you are, where you are going or how you intend to get there, it will be nearly impossible for them to assist you.
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