Cindy Novotny

Don’t tell me not to talk to people!

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I meet people on planes, in lines waiting for my skinny latte, at Nordstrom and in every lobby of every hotel.  I often spot people who I have been trying to meet in these random places.  Recently I was at London Heathrow and while waiting for my driver to get the car, I noticed another driver holding the name sign of an executive from a bank that I had been trying to get a hold of.  Now was my opportunity to strike up a conversation – gutsy yes, critical absolutely.  What would have happened if I would have frozen and not been able to approach the executive?  What would I say?  If this happens to you and you don’t know what to say, it is time to practice your compelling, creative and straight to the point message.  You need to practice this ‘pitch’ – the infamous ‘elevator speech.’ 

As a trainer, consultant and sales person myself I meet so many people who find ‘practicing’ a waste of time.  I just have to laugh at this.  A pro football player will spend 30-40 hours a week practicing to play a 3 hour game, and yet so many sales people feel they don’t need to practice.  As a business owner or sales professional, you should be prepared at all times to seize any opportunity that is presented to you. Serendipity is not just for your personal life – you never know when you will be given an incredible opportunity to make a difference and get your foot in the door. 

Your elevator speech should roll off of your tongue within 3 minutes (the normal time that it would take to jump on an elevator and jump off once you've reached your designated floor). It should show your passion and give the ‘prospect’ a reason to listen to the rest of what you have to say.  You should be creative and memorable. Will they remember your name?  Will you have a business card readily available and will you really follow up on that moment of serendipity?  It is your choice – talk or clam up!