One of the most effective ways to get new clients is through face-to-face contact. Those in your existing social circle and new acquaintances can both lead you to new clients — as long as you can describe your freelancing business to them quickly and accurately.
Experts recommend that small business owners should have an elevator speech ready for social occasions. An elevator speech is a short talk about your freelancing business that can be given in the time that it takes an elevator to reach its destination (usually 30 seconds to a minute).
The timeframe for an elevator speech is short because, in many social situations, a minute is about all the time that you’ll have to talk to an acquaintance before you lose that person’s attention or need to move on. If you can’t communicate your freelance business story in that timeframe, then you’ve missed out on an opportunity. Here’s how to make sure that doesn’t happen.
The Opportunity Cost of Miscommunication
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been getting this part of marketing your freelancing business wrong. I confess that in the past I’ve sometimes been at a loss for words when someone asks me what I do.
Even worse, when caught by surprise I’ve described my freelancing business in semi-apologetic terms. Those conversations used to look something like this:
Them: “So what do you do Laura?”
Me: “Ummm. . . I’m kind of a. . . well, I work from home. I write things, I’m a freelance writer.”
Okay, so my brain froze. I wasn’t ready for the question.
What I said was short, but it didn’t really convey a very good description of what I do. Even worse, it left the impression that I’m not very confident about my work (I am). It also used code words like “work from home” (which is irrelevant to a potential client) and “freelance” (a term which many people don’t understand).
I don’t know how many opportunities I’ve lost in the past because I wasn’t always able to answer the “what do you do” question very quickly or effectively. Clearly my elevator speech was in dire need of repair.
Getting it Right
Fortunately, developing an effective elevator speech isn’t terribly difficult. In fact, if you are willing to spend as little as five minutes each day on it you can probably have an effective elevator speech at the end of a month.
You’ll need a timer for this exercise. Start by looking in the mirror and asking yourself the question: “So what do you do?” Then answer the question. Remember, that your entire answer needs to fit into about two minutes.
For the first few days of this exercise, you may find yourself giving ineffective answers (like I did). After about a week, though, you’ll probably come up with an answer that you really like.
Now my elevator speech is this: “I’m a consultant who helps companies and individuals to improve their communication.”
It’s a much better answer. For one thing, it describes the end result of what I do quickly and effectively. Also, it makes the listener curious. Most of the time when I use this speech I get follow up questions.
Practice Makes Perfect
Once you’ve found an elevator speech that you like, you need to practice it until you can say it confidently and without hesitation.
Use the same five minutes each day in front of the mirror that you used when you developed your elevator speech to practice that speech. Watch the expression on your face as you give your speech.
If need be, you can grab a friend or family member to get a second opinion. Choose someone who is already familiar with your freelancing business. Give the elevator speech to them and ask them if they think that your answer would make a perspective client want to learn more about your business.
After a few weeks of practice you should be able to say your elevator speech with confidence and without hesitation. In fact, when asked what you do giving your elevator speech will be almost second nature for you.
What’s Your Elevator Speech?
Have you already got an effective elevator speech for your freelancing business?
Leave a comment and let us know what your elevator speech is and why you think it’s effective for your business.