Take half a minute to elevate impressions

The Life: Grant Regan helps to teach budding entrepreneurs how to craft a "30-second elevator speech".

Grant Regan works at the Institute for Community Engagement at Zayed University. Through events run by the non-profit organisation Tamakkan, Mr Regan helps to teach budding entrepreneurs how to craft a "30-second elevator speech".

What is the 30-second elevator speech?

It's a first impression and an opportunity. One of our graduates here at Zayed University got her dream job by meeting someone in an elevator. If you are in business, you should be ready for an opportunity to talk to someone. That's the whole idea of the elevator speech - to promote yourself when the opportunity comes.

So entrepreneurs should write their own version of this speech and use it anywhere and everywhere?

Absolutely. Be it in a line-up at a bank or a networking event. So many business relations start at that first meeting.

Once the speech is developed, should it be set in stone?

No, the idea is that you learn from what people are saying. You should keep your antenna alert for people that are doing something that could help you.

How can entrepreneurs develop antennae?

When you introduce yourself in 30 seconds, ideally you want the other person to introduce themselves first. You pick up some of their interests or needs or personality so that you can immediately tune your response. Successful people do this naturally. I'm just trying to remind people to practise it and remember communication is so important.

Doesn't the speech sound a bit too pushy sometimes?

In today's world, it's all about pull marketing, developing a relationship. Pushy marketing is where people are still stuck in the 1950s, '60s and '70s. The model then was like "everybody's the same so let's impose ourselves on people and try to sell to everyone".

So everyone likes Coca-Cola?

Exactly. That was the old approach. Now what you need to do is build a rapport. You come, you have a smile on your face and immediately I want to talk to that person. I think General Electric's previous chief executive, Jack Welch, once said: "You lead from your vulnerabilities." So lead with the personal part and people can empathise with that. Do not make the speech too over the top.

What should an entrepreneur do after handing over a business card?

Time and time again the research says contact the person no longer than after 48 hours, because otherwise they will forget you.

What if the person is truly memorable?

It depends on the impression you made in the first place. Remember, it's not just about selling direct to them. They could refer you to someone. A lot of entrepreneurs forget that the best way to sell is through referrals.