Southern Charm and Elevator Speeches…

Have you ever noticed that most places, when you get into an elevator, there is NO eye contact, no hello, just an unwavering focus on the NUMBER.  Which is so interesting when you think about the concept of the Elevator Speech.  And, of course, the endless questions and guidance…

Do you have one?  How long is it – 30 seconds? a minute?  two minutes (GASP)!?!?!  Do you have a business card that reinforces or supports it so they won’t forget you?  Does it cover every single scenario that could potentially need to be addressed?  Try and Google ‘Elevator Speech’ or ‘Elevator Pitch’ some time.  There are pages of tips, outlines, templates, secrets, and must-haves to sham-wow just about anyone.  Yet what happens when you get in an elevator?Exactly.  When is MY number going to be next?  Is some idiot going to stop this elevator and impede my progress further?  How much longer can this possibly take?  I HAVE NO CELL SERVICE – ARGH!!!

But one of the things I love about the South is just how darn friendly we can be…I can tell you that the Recruiter Chicks have never met a stranger.  We get in an elevator, on a plane, waiting for a table, or at whatever game or event is happening — it is an opportunity to smile, say hello, and figure out if the story we have instantaneously crafted in our head about you is anywhere remotely close to reality.

I was riding down the elevator today at my client’s office and sure enough, the elevator stops at the very next floor.  Within 10 seconds I know that my new elevator mate is actually an employee of my client.  Been there 10 years — working in an area of the business I have yet to touch. Next stop, two more join us.  The door shuts just as I start to tell my new friend what kind of work I have been doing with her company.  At which point, our newest elevator mate shares that the other person who has also just joined us, sings — and is amazing.  Random?  Yes…but…guess what?  My new client friend just so happens to really need a singer for an upcoming event.  Numbers are swapped, as is a promise to call this evening at 7pm.

And I have a blog post written in my head by the time I get to my car.  That was a very productive few minutes.

So…my point?  How many of us really ever take any one of the many chances we have to connect with others to do anything like this?  I have a hundred stories like this — and I know my blog partner, Teela Jackson, probably has twice that.   My question to you is — When are you planning on using that Elevator Speech?  Just sayin…

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Chris Havrilla

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10 2012

8 Comments Add Yours ↓

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  1. 1

    Great post, Chris! And a great reminder to us all. Especially those of us living in or near the dreaded elevator hell of NYC! I love the concept of never meeting a stranger! Never say no to a conversation. You just never know where it might lead…

    • Chris Havrilla #

      Thanks so much Jennifer!! I have to admit, I had NYC in mind — as well as the poor man I actually startled when I walked into an elevator in Chicago 2 weeks ago. He recovered nicely though and was quite charming once I wrenched his eyes from ‘The Number’ with a cheery good morning. He was from there but travels heavily as he’s a Pilot :)

  2. 3

    Chris, this is excellent, great job of contextualizing the many purposes to which an elevator speech can be put!

    • Chris Havrilla #

      Thanks Ed — you just never know :)

  3. 5

    Chris – I think introducing ourselves is a lost art, and the myth of the two-minute (gasp, for sure!) “elevator pitch” lives on in so many minds. A smile and a get-to-the point/what’s in it for you “hello” can go far. (Especially since most elevators aren’t going very far!) Thanks!

    • Chris Havrilla #

      So true Miriam!! It only takes a smile and a brief what’s in it for you ‘hello’ to see if more dialogue would be interesting or desirable! Thanks for stopping by, my friend :)

  4. 7

    Chris — This is a great post and, as others have commented, a wonderful reminder to us all: don’t be closed-off to life; FEAST ON IT. The ‘dreaded’ elevator hang time seems to be the epitome of this type of social paralysis, and as you noted, we’ve been preconditioned here — to keep quiet and eyes at the floor. Much better to smile. Eye contact. Get to yakkin’. (Or be really ballsy and pull a “So, you’re probably wondering why I’ve gathered you all here, today…” Heh.)

    One never knows what new client, partner, boss — or band-mate, awaits. (Or, if you’re in the elevator at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.. well, we’ve all seen those commercials!)


    Oh, and your “Saved by the grace of Southern charm”? Tshirt. Zazzle. Do it! ;)

    • Chris Havrilla #

      Awww – thanks Marc!! I love your energy and you epitomize this concept. I’m telling you I think there’s some southern boy buried deep within you :)

      And for the record…it is already done. I definitely Zazzle — Not only have the t-shirt, I have the iCase too :)

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