Staircase Story vs Elevator Pitch

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vgedris/6786035218/

When I first started networking I remember the amount of people who advised me to have an elevator pitch.

A short pithy sentence which summed up what I do and could be given at networking events or whenever stopped on the spot to explain stuff.
Whilst I understood the context it became really uncomfortable especially as I was still finding my feet with my new business(es). It also became incredibly uncomfortable when I overheard people trying to explain what I did based on a previous elevator pitch. Worse still when you are in a group and a new entrant comes in to the conversation and you have to repeat the same story again.

As a sidebar I have never understood weekly or monthly networking groups where members repeat this same pitch to each other.

I dropped the whole concept of elevator pitches when I realised that I refused to answer the template “What do you?” question asked of me at events. I challenge people to ask me another question instead of staring at my name badge and asking the standard query, which brings out a whole new conversation. Given that I am a portfolio careerist and that I run more than one company which pitch do I chose? Is their an overarching summary? Which one will I be remembered for? And “Do you watch porn? I am that guy!” whilst personally funny is not always the best distraction. I have found.

Still this whole elevator pitch thing got me thinking.

What would happen if we had to give a staircase story instead of an elevator pitch?

I remember when I worked in corporate life of the many fire alarm routines we had  Walking down, or up, the stairs, you would often bump into other people from other organisations and get into conversation. Being British it would often be about the weather or about the inconvenience of having to leave the desk. Or sometimes the joy in doing so.

You would walk down the stairs ever conscious of where you were going. You would pay attention so that you dont fall. Conversations tended to be light hearted and not so serious. Climbing back up the stairs would take effort and (for those who were unfit) demand a set amount of concentration on both climbing and talking.

In an elevator it’s all smooth and precise and usually quick. Walking up or down the stairs takes a bit more effort and tends to be less formal.

OK so these are exagerrated comparisons but think about it for a minute.
What if you had to think of a different question other than “so what do you” or “who do you know here”?
What questions would you ask?
What stories would you tell?

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