How to Write a 30-Second Introduction for Referral Meetings

How to Write a 30-second intro for referral meetings

Welcome to the last of our 4-part series on “How to Talk About What You Do."

For the past three weeks, I've been walking you through an answer to the question of, "How do I clearly and concisely verbally say what I do?"

This is all about how to communicate verbally when you're networking. It's not what you put on your website or what you share when you have a captive audience. This is about what you share when you've got a structured 30-second time at a BNI or similar referral meeting.

Here's a recap in case you want to catch up!

  • Read Part 1 - where we broke down the first step, simplifying your job title and sacrificing creativity for clearer communication.
  • Read Part 2 - where I encouraged you to think of what those clear calls-to-action / next steps you want your new networking connections to take with you. Knowing these can help you focus on what to say - rather than telling the whole story.
  • Read Part 3 - this broke down exercises to identify your 5 key elements of your 30-second introduction.

Today, we're putting it all together. I'm going to show you one way to build your structured "you've got 30 seconds" to say what you do, aka your "elevator pitch."


In today's story, we'll look at:


We'll refresh from last week then I'll show you some examples. I'll break down how they work and how you can put them to work for you.


Here are those 5 key pieces for writing your 30-second introduction for referral meetings.

From last week's story - here are those 5 elements.

  1. Element 1 : Your Clear Job Title or Business Category > Make sure you’ve chosen and refined your clear job title(s) or business category / categories.
  2. Element 2 : The Key Problems You Solve > Decide what the key problems (1-2 for the purposes of a 30-second intro) are that you solve.
  3. Element 3 : Your Primary Audience for Your Business > Define your main audience for your products and services.
  4. Element 4 : Your Unique Twist or Personality Behind Your "Boring" Category > Write down in as short a phrase as possible what your spin is within your overall “boring” category.
  5. Element 5 : Your Tagline or a Tagline Variation > Write down your tagline with all your writing for these exercises. Plan to use it in your intro.

I'm going to show you one way or "formula" for doing this. As I'll share later, this isn't the only way to do a 30-second intro - but if your goal is clarity, this will get you there and have people better understanding who you are, what your business is, and how they can help and refer others to you.

Here are successful examples of how to bring together your clear "elevator pitch."

Remember our entrepreneur examples from Part 1 and Part 2? I've brought a few of them back to show you how this works. Everything in bold calls back to one of the 5 key elements.

You'll also note in every example - I recommend saying your own name and the name of your business (if applicable) twice in the context of being in a referral meeting. This helps with memorability and is a common best practice.


Adele Michal | Adele Michal Coaching

Ideal Next Steps Adele wants new connections to take: Schedule a Complimentary Sales Session, Join newsletter, Set 1:1 for referral partnership

Behind-the-scenes elements of Adele's intro >

  • Clear Job Titles: Sales Coach, Speaker and Trainer
  • Key Problems Solved: Effective sales without compromising integrity - no sleazy sales people
  • Primary Audience: Women entrepreneurs and teams
  • Unique Twist: Sales without “selling your soul” - how to do sales without sleaze
  • Tagline: Uses secondary tagline - "sell well without selling your soul"

Adele's 30-second introduction* >

Who here hates the thought of pushing your services on other people? Anybody tired of hard sales pitches? Me too. 

I’m Adele Michal, and I believe there are ways to success that don’t mean compromising who you are to get it. As a sales coach, speaker, and trainer, I guide women and teams on how to grow a business by selling well without "selling your soul." 

If you’re frozen on how to approach sales and would love to know how to do it without the sleaze, let’s connect. Adele Michal with Adele Michal Coaching.

*One trick we use in Adele's introduction is to introduce a shared feeling or frustration - a key problem her clients face. This is a hook / an attention getter that does double duty by defining a problem.


Janice Smith | Big Dog Little Bed Productions

Ideal Next Steps Janice wants new connections to take: Contact for a custom quote for event, Set 1:1 for referral partnership

This is a good example if you have two audiences / two offerings that are related.

Behind-the-scenes elements of Janice's intro >

  • Clear Categories: Wedding and Commercial Videography
  • Key Problems Solved: Creating lasting, meaningful connections through video - weddings connect you to family; promo videos connect you to customers
  • Primary Audience: Families/Couples and Small business owners
  • Unique Twist: Our work is driven by making deep and authentic connections and we're experts at putting it all together in a natural way
  • Tagline:  Primary tagline is "Films that connect us" - uses secondary tagline - "let's connect" ;)

Janice's 30-second introduction* >

In a world where there’s a million things to click on, feeling personal and connected has become more important than ever. 

I’m Janice Smith, owner of Big Dog Little Bed Productions. As a wedding and commercial videography company serving Durham and beyond, we’re passionate about making films that connect us. 

With wedding films, we connect families and generations – with videos for small business ownerswe connect you to clients and customers. If you’ve got a story to share, we’re here to help join all the pieces together. Let’s connect. Janice Smith / Big Dog Little Bed.

*A different way to get attention with your opening line is to appeal to a shared emotion and heighten the value of what you do, as Janice's intro does. Suddenly video is more important to us because we're reminded that - when done well - it's personal and makes us feel connected to each other.

We've also taken care to identify WHERE she is based (Durham) and the fact that she does video "beyond" this geographical area - as that is likely a key consideration for those interested in a project with Janice.


Crystal Scillitani | LeadingUp Consulting

Ideal Next Steps: Call me, read my blo

Behind-the-scenes elements of Crystal's intro >

  • Clear Job Title: Education consultant
  • Key Problems Solved: Unlocking potential and empowering of leaders; impacting student achievement; transforming classrooms for the better
  • Primary Audience: Education leaders, including teachers and stretching up to district leaders and beyond
  • Unique Twists: 25 years experience; in-depth and far reaching solutions; seeing leaders at every level - not just district or principal level
  • Tagline:  Primary tagline is "solutions for school leaders at every level" - intro leverages this language plus secondary tagline "Level up"

Crystal's 30-second introduction* >

In our school systems, there’s so much potential with students and with leaders at every level, especially our teachers. I’m Crystal Scillitani, an education consultant with LeadingUp Consulting.

With more than 25 years of experience with NC schools, I work with education leaders to provide in-depth solutions that impact student achievement and transform our classrooms. 

From trainings, to workshops, to professional development – I help schools empower their leaderslevel up and take the right steps to success. Crystal Scillitani, LeadingUp Consulting.

*Crystal's is a good example of how you might use the credibility of years of experience to be your "twist" and one of your points of difference to highlight in an intro and gain more trust quickly.


Now, your turn. Here's a format to write your own intro. 

Now that you've seen a few examples - see if you can create your own version.

Exercise: Create your own 30-second elevator speech template

Here are some sentence prompts to get you a first draft.

Sentence 1 What's a question you could ask that highlights a common problem that you solve or a relatable benefit that your business provides? Pull from problems solved and/or your twist for inspiration.

Sentence 2 - Introduce yourself and the name of your business (if applicable). Use the clear category or job title you've picked.

Sentence 3 -  Try to fill in the blanks - "Through x service(s) or x product(s), I help (audience) solve the problems of x and x to achieve (benefit/success). Use the problems solved and audience you've already identified.

Sentence 4 - Expand more on the benefits / share your unique twist with something like "With my (twist behind the business), I work with you to deliver (benefit(s) )." Highlight the twist of your approach and benefits of it.

Sentence 5 - The call-to-action and connect. "If this sounds interesting to you, let's talk." (might be a good place to use your tagline or a variation on it that turns it into a call for action).

Sentence 6 - Repeat your name and the name of your business.


Work through the above, then consider where could you swap in your tagline to add more personality? Can you change any other words to better fit the world of your business?

Then I want you to time yourself - speaking naturally - and see if it's under 30 seconds. If it's not - look at what extraneous words you can cut or what you can say more succinctly.

If you REPLY to me with your draft and I'll give you feedback. Contact me here.

A few things you should consider when it comes to an "elevator pitch."

As you work on your draft and start testing out using it, I want to share a few thoughts on the notion of an elevator pitch.

I don't love the term "elevator pitch" as I think you wouldn't naturally say a 30-second intro all in one fell blow in an elevator. It's just not how people talk in a one-on-one setting. 

So a few things -

  • This series and today's exercise is really about those times you have a 30-second timed formal introduction to make and you want to be clear about what you do
  • You wouldn't want to just launch into this one-on-one in an elevator because it's too formal in this format
  • You should go through this exercise so you know the beats you want to hit should you need an actual elevator pitch
  • In an elevator with someone, try to talk naturally and work these beats (these key elements we discussed) into what you say in that scenario - the soundbeats can be used individually as you'd like 


All of this said, I'll also add that my suggested format in today's story is not the only  way to do a great 30-second intro. I've seen people sing them for example! Talk about being memorable.


But if you do try this structure out, I think you'll begin to find people more clearly understand what you do and how to connect with you - the greatest goal you have in a networking setting like a BNI.

If you get stuck and are interested in my help to write this for you, I often do this as a part of a full "Brand Voice Guide." Grab time with me any time to talk about working together right here.


What is your next biggest question?

I'm looking forward to October and a new series to address your interests and questions about business and branding. 

Reply and tell me - What is your biggest business or branding question right now? Perhaps I'll dive deep into the answer for October!

Further resources on "elevator pitches" and more: