Do you recall the elevator pitch?. You had to tell people about yourself in the time it took to go a few floors in a lift or on an elevator. My US friends need to translate .. what Americans call an elevator we cal a lift in the UK.
Most people focused on something like “I’m Stefan and I am a marketing consultant”. It was all about the speaker and very boring.
A better concept is to talk about what they need. So when I meet a principal in a lift I get a better response if I say something like, “I’m Stefan and I’ve just increased applications at x college buy 30% and cut their marketing budget by £100k. Would you be interested in learning how we did it?”
In my experience principals have several worries at present. They revolve around budgets/fee income, Area Reviews/mergers and quality. The above conversation addresses aspects of several of the things that are keeping them awake at night. It addresses the conversation that is going on in their head. That being so few have no interest in finding ways to increase applications or save money.
So even if they will not meet with you they will get one of their staff to talk to you.
Adapting Basic Principles to Other Sectors and Industries
The above tactic can be applied to any sector or industry. The key is understanding what is keeping the other party awake at night. It means you must understand their sector in sufficient detail to be able to reflect it back to them.
Rather than wait to be asked to introduce yourself it is better to be proactive. So start by asking the other party who they are and what their major focus is at present. Then reflect it back. Of course the reflection has to be sensitive; blurting out inconsequential rubbish has never worked.
There are some great tools that provide industry and career specific data. Interrogate them in advance of bumping into someone at a meeting or in the lift and you are prepared and ahead of the game.