Avoiding the Verbal Card Toss

I was talking recently to a new business acquaintance, Tracy Karbus, about (what else?) networking. She mentioned how she hated going to events where everyone just threw their business cards at each other and there was no real connecting.

Then she asked, “What do you think you should do for a 30-second elevator speech?”

And I cringed. I know, I know – it’s an accepted “fact” of business that you have to have this pithy, enticing quick introduction ready at all times. But I really can’t stand it.

But as I write this, I realize that my distaste is not for the quick introduction itself, but rather that it’s become this one-size fits all verbal equivalent of throwing your business card at someone. No connection, just a pitch.

Here is an example of what the elevator speech has become:

“Hi, I’m Mary Cravets and I am the Speed Networking Maven. I show entrepreneurs how to rocket themselves to the center of their community and network like rockstars. Do you know anyone who wants more business, more exposure and more money?”

Ick. Gimmicky, over the top, and immediately imposing on the other person – a complete stranger – to bring you business. I might as well have just said, “Me, me, me, and oh, yeah, what do you think about me?” Whenever someone asks me a leading question like the one above, I immediately get queasy.

Here is an example of what it could be:

“Hi, I’m Mary Cravets and I teach people how to run networking events that put them center stage in their business community. I heard you mention that you are a lawyer, what is your specialty?”

Do you see the difference? The first approach uses force to push my agenda into a stranger’s face. Not at all appealing, and unlikely to lead to a long-term professional association.

The second approach allows the person room to share, and become curious about me. It lets THEM decide if and when to ask about my business.

And to answer your next question, yes, sometimes people will not get around to asking about you. Keep in mind, most of us have been trained to talk rather than to listen, so be patient with people. If the person you’re talking to doesn’t ask about you, you can either let it go, and get around to your business some other time, or you can segue to your business by saying something like, “I’ll definitely keep you in mind for referrals. Would you mind if I shared what kind of referrals would help my business?”

They will ALWAYS say yes!

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Mary Cravets

Founder Mary Cravets started Simply Get Clients because she saw small business owners complicating growing their businesses. Or falling victim to the "build it and they will come" myth. So she developed the simple structure to cut through all the noise of social media, "experts", online funnels, advertising and more to focus on the central problem of business owners: getting more clients. And you know what? There is NOT a one-size-fits-all solution.

Reader Interactions


  1. Charlotte says

    It sounds the same to me. Let’s face it… everyone says they hate the pitch and not connecting but it’s kinda fake asking about someone elses business if you are not genuinely interested. I have found one or two interesting services that I have used and for the most part… networking events can use up a lot of your time if you don’t connect with anyone.

    I have had some interesting connections made with events I went to where I spent some time chatting with someone I found interesting or whose business I found interesting. Maybe it’s time to change things up.

    • Mary Cravets says

      WOW, I hadn’t thought about it, but it really does sound the same, doesn’t it?!? I guess the difference is where your heart is in relation to the words. For me personally, I’m genuinely curious about people and want to find ways to help right away, so asking about them questions about their business is a sincere request. Isn’t it strange how two people could use the exact same words, and yet come off completely differently?

      And the truth is that the networking is pretty much just a prelude to follow up and the actual creation of genuine relationships. And that’s really your forte, isn’t it, Charlotte? I’m a big fan of SendOutCards, and how it lets me stay connected with the people I meet.

      Thanks for your frank insight.

  2. Val says

    It does not sound the same. You are sharing the “ball”. I play with it and then I pass it to you so you can play with it. If you pass it back to me, that tells me a lot about you.