What’s more awkward than standing in the elevator with one other person and staring at the elevator doors? Wondering if you should talk or not talk or continue to stare at the button for floor 5? You’ve heard of the idea of having an “elevator pitch”? 

Wait…before you let that phrase make you roll your eyes, let’s flip the script and think of it differently. Think of this as an opportunity to sell yourself during an elevator ride – creating a short, compelling synopsis of, well, YOU!  

While the idea of a classic “pitch” may give you the ‘icks’, it’s more about “selling” your life’s desires and wishes so others can help you. How many times has someone told you something they wanted, and suddenly you realized you could help. And not only could you – but you WANTED to! That’s what life really is anyway – people helping each other by ‘selling’ what they have to offer each other. 

One of the key problems with pitches is that they tend to be one size fits all. It’s the 30-second story you tell everyone. But here’s the thing: You aren’t like anyone else, so why would you give the same schpeel to other people who are all clearly different from each other?! Each person you encounter is going to have a different idea, thought or opinion. One elevator pitch isn’t going to cut it!  

So, what if we ditched the pitch? Instead, let’s talk, like two human beings who might have some common interests and who might mutually benefit from getting to know each other.   

How are you going to introduce yourself to that exec who can help you get your next promotion? Or the cute jogger who runs by every day that you’ve been dying to ask out? Or the new mom in the neighborhood with the adorable toddler? 

You need individual approaches, not pitches! You need a different one for each mutually-beneficial connection you want to make.  

You wouldn’t start your first conversation with the jogger by telling him about the big award you just won for your last professional project, would you? You wouldn’t approach the new mom with a complaint about the neighborhood, right?  

All you’re really doing is introducing yourself and inviting the other person to have a conversation with you. A conversation where you listen first and offer something second.  

No one likes a conversation where it’s clear the other person isn’t listening and is only waiting to interject. Talk about an ‘ick’! So slow down and listen. Know what you want, but at the top of that list should be wanting to genuinely listen to what the other person is saying. 

Here’s how to get started: First, realize one size doesn’t fit all. What do you want from each person? What do you have to offer each person? Get clear on what you want, know how you can help others, and brainstorm a way you can benefit them. Then… you can start working on your introduction (notice how I didn’t say ‘pitch’?).  

Remember: Ditch the pitch for an actual conversation. We’re all just people talking with other people. The only person standing in your way is YOU!