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Is your elevator speech pushing the right buttons?

Posted 07-13-2009 at 06:54 AM by TargetStars
I have been to quite a few networking events and I guarantee you will hear the phrase, “Tell me about yourself.” Many people are able to answer this question with no problem, while others seem to struggle. If you find yourself experiencing the latter, one way to combat this issue is memorizing an elevator speech.

In case you are not familiar with this term, an elevator speech is a short spiel that enables you to convey with others your occupation and what you represent (i.e. attributes) in the same length of time it takes for you to reach the highest floor in an elevator (approximately 30 to 60 seconds). Think of it as a way to “break the ice” when you meet someone new. In order to find out if your speech is pushing the right buttons, keep the following in mind:

[B]Know before you go[/B]: First impressions are extremely important. People form their judgments about a person within the first thirty seconds of meeting them. Therefore, when someone requests that you tell them about yourself, please do not waste these precious seconds.

I am not trying to be funny or mean when I say this, but please figure out what it is that you do and what you represent before you are asked (especially if you are going to a networking event!). When some people are asked to talk about themselves they act like it is a trick question and are literally stumped in trying to determine how to craft a response. Remember, only you have the answer. Using “fillers” such as ‘um’ or ‘ah’ will not help in your quest to project that you are a confident individual.

[B]Would you want to listen to yourself? [/B]

When you are rehearsing your elevator speech keep in mind how you would feel if you were subjected to listening to your speech. Would you be satisfied or bored? If you are bored and you wrote the speech—imagine how the listener will feel. I realize not everyone has a “cool” job. However, this is still no excuse for having a boring elevator speech. How do you expect to impress a recruiter or land a new client without capturing their attention?

The key to getting where you want to be is to demonstrate that regardless of what your occupation is, you take ownership of your position and have pride in the work you perform. Do yourself a favor and craft an elevator speech worth listening to by including the following:
[LIST][*][B]Your occupation[/B]: Yes, this seems obvious, but it does not hurt to be reminded. In addition, make sure that you add the company name as well. The person listening to you might know one of your colleagues. Therefore, in the event that you are nervous, knowing a common person that the listener knows might make you feel more at ease.

[*][B]Why are you unique? [/B]For example, instead of simply saying, “I am a Marketing Consultant,” and bring the conversation to a screeching halt, why not say, “I am a Marketing Consultant that loves a challenge and truly enjoy assisting my clients.”

[*][B]Examples, please.[/B] When you craft your response by answering, “Why you are unique?” The degree to how well you craft your answer will determine how interested people will be in learning more about you. You will know you accomplished this feat when the next question you are asked is, “How do you [insert your exceptionally crafted answer—i.e. assist your clients]?” This question will enable you to share your skills and talents without being viewed as “pushy.” Make the most of your time in the spotlight by giving 3 quick examples to support why you are [insert your exceptionally crafted answer].[/LIST][B]Facial expressions speak just as loud as words[/B]: When you are speaking make sure you are paying attention to how others are reacting to your speech. If you see someone is confused, immediately stop and ask them if they need clarification. Oftentimes, if people are confused they will let you keep talking because they are afraid that they will come across as ignorant (of course this could not be further from the truth!).

It is your responsibility to put their mind at ease by being direct and asking them if they need clarification. I often receive puzzled looks when I mention that my company offers virtual assistant services. When I receive these looks, the next words out of my mouth are, “Are you familiar with the concept of virtual assistance?” When I offer to clarify a term or phrase that is unfamiliar to the other person, I can see the sigh of relief on their face and am then told, “No, if you do not mind can you explain it to me.”

It does neither person any good to allow you to continue talking when you are not on the same page. The other person will undoubtedly harbor feelings of insecurity because they did not understand what you do. When you fail to pick up on nonverbal cues that your listener is confused , your listener will assume that you are “smarter” than them and you will miss out on the chance to connect.

Remember, the whole purpose of an elevator speech is to share what you do and what you represent. You are also satisfying their curiosity in why you are a phenomenal person that they should become better acquainted with and worth adding to their network. You have to make sure that your speech is pushing the right buttons so you can get off on the same floor together.
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Inspiration comes in many forms

Posted 06-17-2009 at 05:19 AM by TargetStars

Inspiration can come in many forms. Many are inspired by their families, friends, athletes, etc., so you may find it odd that I found inspiration in my parents rose garden. My family and I would spend a lot of time working in this garden together. However, this is not just any old rose garden. This is the rose garden that many people warned us would never grow. This rose garden, much like my business, is the result of what people can accomplish when they are willing to work hard to achieve their goals and not allow the negativity of others to get in the way of achieving success.

People did not think we would be able to grow a garden in this particular spot. You cannot see it in this picture, but to the left of this garden is a huge tree. When we shared our plans with some of our neighbors about growing a garden in this spot, we were warned not to do so. They told us stories of how other people who lived in this house before us tried to plant a garden in this spot and were unsuccessful in doing so because when you went to water the flowers, the roots of the tree next to this spot would “steal” the water; thus, causing the plants to die.

However, my parents (mainly my mother!) were intent on having a rose garden in this spot. My mother loves flowers and always wanted a rose garden in the front of the house. Instead of doing the “safe” thing and planting their garden in another spot, they chose to acknowledge the obstacles and work around the issues the roots posed to their quest in having a rose garden. They did something no one else ever thought to do. They (of course with the help of my sister and I) dug holes deep enough to place buckets that were equally deep enough to allow the roots of the roses to grow and planted their flowers within these buckets. We placed enough dirt to hide the rims of the buckets and further decorated the area with wood chips.

As you can see, their idea worked because they did not allow previous failures of others deter them from attaining the goal they sought to achieve. People soon started coming to my parents for gardening tips since they were able to achieve what was once deemed as impossible. However, what my parents did was not extraordinary by any means, it worked because they were willing to think outside of the box.

Although we no longer live in this house, this rose garden continues to serve as an inspiration to me because just like the warnings my parents received in planting a garden in this spot, I received warnings from others in starting my business. My family supported my decision to do so, however, my friends turned out to be a different story. They rattled off bleak statistics of how much it cost to start a business, the number of businesses that failed, etc. all in an attempt to get me to reconsider my decision.

However, this rose garden serves as a constant reminder to me that you must master the art of filtering advice because doing so will heighten your ability to think outside of the box. You can listen to the advice that people are freely willing to dish out (oftentimes without you asking for it), but you have to be able to put it in perspective. In other words, keep the good advice and toss the bad advice into the trash. The main reason I kept hearing from my friends was that being an entrepreneur was “risky.”

During my filtering process I realized that choosing to work for a corporation is just as “risky” because at the end of the day the only way you are guaranteed a job is if you own your own business. I then came across all sorts of stories combating the very reasons my friends were trying to talk me out of starting my own business. For example, my friend was quoting some ridiculous figure of how much you needed to have saved before you even think about starting a business. However, in one of the many entrepreneur magazines I subscribe to, I kept coming across articles where women started their own entreprises in their kitchen or basement.

These articles confirmed my decision to start my own business. I acknowledged all the issues that served as obstacles (i.e. money, marketing, etc.) and was inspired to think outside the box. I didn’t have tons of money saved up, so I couldn’t quit my day job. Therefore, I worked full time while slowly preparing to launch out on my own. I literally set a side money from each paycheck that would be used to fund various aspects of my business. I was able to get my business up and running off the ground a year later. Now those very same people who tried talking me out of my business are coming to me for advice in how to start their own business. Had I not been willing to try and accepted the hindrances before me I would not be where I am today.

Although, I have a long way to go in my journey through entrepreneurship, I am making great progress. I know there is no reason in the world why I cannot be one of the people I read about in my entrepreneur magazines. The lessons that I learned from my parents rose garden inspired me to be creative in reaching the goals I set out to achieve. There is more than one way to attain your goals in life. However, the trick is to find ways to work around the obstacles you are sure to encounter as my parents did with their rose garden so you can defy the odds and experience abundant success.

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