Forget Your Elevator Pitch, What’s Your Personal Pitch?


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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Going Down?

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.

Follow my startup-oriented Twitter feed here: @johngreathouse. I promise I will never tweet about cuddly puppies or that killer burrito I just ate.

Image: Wikipedia

John Greathouse

John Greathouse is a Partner at Rincon Venture Partners, a venture capital firm investing in early stage, web-based businesses. Previously, John co-founded RevUpNet, a performance-based online marketing agency sold to Coull. During the prior twenty years, he held senior executive positions with several successful startups, spearheading transactions that generated more than $350 million of shareholder value, including an IPO and a multi-hundred-million-dollar acquisition.

John is a CPA and holds an M.B.A. from the Wharton School. He is a member of the University of California at Santa Barbara’s Faculty where he teaches several entrepreneurial courses.

Note: All of my advice in this blog is that of a layman. I am not a lawyer and I never played one on TV. You should always assess the veracity of any third-party advice that might have far-reaching implications (be it legal, accounting, personnel, tax or otherwise) with your trusted professional of choice.

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Follow John’s Startup Oriented Twitter Stream. He promises to never Tweet about sunsets, kittens or awesome burritos.

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