At least not all the time...
We are all taught to have an elevator pitch. A 30 - 60 second verbal presentation that tells people what we do and what they will get from it. In a formal networking environment, such as BNI or when you're asked, they can be very effective at getting information to an audience quickly.
The problem is that they are generic. They are deliberately drafted as a summary that can be learnt and adapted only slightly. That's absolutely no use when talking to an individual. So what do you do?
1. Get them to talk first
Not usually difficult as most people at networking events love talking about themselves and what they do. As they talk, you listen and understand what makes them tick and try to identify their needs.
2. Personalise your response
By knowing what they need, you can adapt what you say. Use stories of when you've helped others who are similar to them, including the results achieved. When you do describe what you do, tie it to their needs and only talk about the parts of your portfolio that are relevant. You've only got a few minutes, so you have no chance of telling them everything.
3. Don't sell
You cannot sell to them at this time, unless you want them to walk away. This is a time to get them thinking about how you may be able to help them. It is a time to tease them a little so they want more. Even if they are the decision maker, this isn't the time to try and close the deal.
You cannot help everyone you meet, but you may know someone who can. If this is the case, offer to make an introduction that will help them. They will remember this and remember you in the future.
5. Move On
Thank them for their time and move on, after agreeing that you will meet up again soon to talk in more detail. They will thank you for your time and will be looking forward to meeting again - and you get to do it all over again with someone else you've not met before
2. Forget about your elevator pitchMost people have carefully prepared elevator pitch so they know what to day whenever you meet someone, but guess what? Over time it starts to sound canned and insincere. So don't do it. I believe you should get to know the person you are talking to and understand more about their background and needs. Then when you share what you do, you can provide details that are relevant to that person. People don't necessarily want to hear all about you, what they do want to hear about is what you can do for them or maybe someone they know. I prefer to think of this as your elevator "promise". It is much more personal and gets to the heart of how you will add value.