You may not know this is International Networking Week. Now that Facebook and other social media places are so popular, many people think they don’t need to talk to real people at their local business networking group.

They may have a point, but only if they have a perfect marketing slogan.

practice your pitch at networking eventsNetworking events, especially the ones where you have to deliver a 30-second infomercial, are wonderful places to practice your elevator speech and polish the tagline you plaster all over your web site, profiles, email signature and other places.

Talk to strangers

Say them out loud  to people you don’t know. Immediately you’ll realize how stilted you sound. You may want to race back to the office to shut down your web site and burn those brochures.

When the subject of elevator speeches is raised, many people  think about those moments when, heart pounding, mouth dry, they talk about what they do, quickly so they don’t get gonged.

Lucky for you, no one is really listening to your infomercial.  They’re thinking about their own pitch, though some will perk up if you talk about them.

Slide it into conversation

You have to not only deliver this fast pitch in front of the big crowd, but also comfortably slide it into small conversation at networking events. Only if it survives these stress tests is it ready it for your web site and other marketing material.

While the elevator pitch can take you to great heights, you have to avoid snapping the cables and plunging to disaster. To prevent that, you must focus on how you help other people, not on what you do. And you have to sound natural.

To get started, think about how you solve a problem or ease a pain, then write a tagline. Say it out loud, then to your gold fish.  Not your dog, who will respond enthusiastically to anything you say or your cat who will reduce you to baby talk.

Rehearse and revise

Rehearse your pitch at a networking event where you don’t expect to meet prospects, a safe place. You will probably meet some cool people who feel just as uncomfortable as you about practicing their pitch.  Maybe you’ll rehearse more with each other later.

If you get frustrated by all the work and time, remember the money that advertisers pour into successful slogans. A catchy slogan is worth a thousand words. You are worth it.

Write, revise, rehearse, rewrite. Rinse and repeat. That’s how I came up with my tagline: “I help people write like they talk—only better.” It worked so well it became the title of my book.  My subtitle also came from talking to real live people: “I help people pull ideas out of their heads and onto the page.”

I knew these phrases would work in writing, because I had received such an enthusiastic response when I said them out loud to strangers at networking groups, my favorite focus groups.

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Happy International Networking Week
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