Steps to Networking – Step 44: Writing Your Sound Bite

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 9th, 2010

Step 44: Writing your sound bite

Before even attempting to write your sound bite, be sure that you clearly know what it is that you do. Most people don’t know what they do, according to business expert Mitch Axelrod. “If I ask 100 people what they do, 90 of them will mumble, stumble and jumble. They’ve never really sat down and created a statement of what they do that is based on the results they achieved for the people they served.” Axelrod explains. “While we think we know what we do, it’s only from our own perspective. Our clients often perceive the benefits we provided quite differently. And they, and people like them, are usually the targets we’re after.”

Ask your customers or clients, “Why did you buy from me?” Ask even if you think you know. Inquire of 10, 15 or 30 customers or clients, why did you buy from or do business with me. At first some will be reluctant to tell you, but keep trying. Explain to them that their answers are important to you.

The answers you receive may surprise you. They may state reasons that you never would have suspected or imagined. They may reveal miscommunications, lack of clarity or just plain omissions or oversights by you.

After receiving your customers’ or clients’ input, incorporate what they told you in your sound bite. Then, when you subsequently give your sound bite, you will be telling those you meet the outcomes and results you have produced for you clients and customers, not the just naming the product your sell or the service you deliver. As a result, your pitch will more clearly explain the benefits that you can provide. It will also prevent listeners from putting a label on you, stop them from shackling you with their preconceived notions or lumping you in with all the other salespersons, professional speakers or construction worker they know.

And while you’re at it, ask those who didn’t hire or buy from you the reasons why. It may not provide fodder for your sound bite, but their answers may point out what you did wrong that prevented you from getting their business. Often problems that their answers bring forth are easily correctible such as your not clearly having explained specific benefits they would have received from you. Unless you ask, you may have no other way to learn what you may have been doing wrong until it’s too late.

Business coach C.J. Hayden believes that he best way to capture your listener’s attention in a sound bite is first to state whom your message is intended to interest. In her sound bite, Hayden starts by saying that she teaches business owners and salespeople.

Next, state the benefit you provide, Hayden teaches. Tell listeners what is in it for them before you tell them what you do or how you do it. When you state your title or label first, it can position you in the mind of the listener. Upon hearing titles, many listeners immediately put people in a particular niche or slot and stop listening. If you open by saying that you are a lawyer, a listener might immediately connect you with unpleasant experiences they had with lawyers or with lawyer jokes and not listen to how you can help.

Speaker, writer and trainer, Dave Sherman, “The Networking Guy,” instructs clients to, “Have an engaging introduction – In this fast paced business world, people have less than ten seconds to engage others in a conversation. What most people say when asked, “What do you do,” is the LAST thing they should ever say. Most people respond with their name, their title and their company name. The challenge with this response is that NO ONE CARES WHAT THEY DO FOR A LIVING. People only care about what their company will do for them. If you can tell people how you can help them in 10 seconds or less, you will hear the three most beautiful words in the world, TELL ME MORE!

Always focus on the benefits – When people take the time to explain to others what they do, they typically focus on all the features of their product or service. This response is fine if they want to be like their competition. The only way to set yourself apart is by focusing on the benefits that your product or service provides. It’s the benefits that people want to hear about because they are always concerned with “what’s in it for them.”

Give your sound bite in words that everyone can understand including those who are not in your industry. First, easily understood terms clearly convey to listeners precisely what you want. Second, in networking, the person you address may recommend you to others and if he/she does not fully understand what you said, he/she will not be able to clearly explain it to his/her contacts. Many of those who you approach will not be in your industry so avoid words that are specific to your industry because listeners may not understand them.

Make your sound bite an attention-grabbing introduction. Think of it as a commercial jingle selling you. Work it into letters, mailers, announcements, brochures, ads, e-mail signatures, forms, questionnaires and applications.


After months of going to networking meetings, having no luck and no favorable responses to his offerings, business advisor Mark LeBlanc tried a new method of introducing himself. Prior to this, he felt that he was repelling people with his various methods of introducing his products and services. So on this particular morning, when he got his opportunity, he simply stood up and said, “My name is Mark LeBlanc and I run a company called Small Business Success. I work with people who want to start a business and small business owners who want to grow their business.”

The response was overwhelming. A number of attendees responded favorably and within 30 days LeBlanc got seven new clients. The floodgates opened and LeBlanc understand the importance of using the primary outcomes of his work in his sound bite. He now had come up with a defining statement that became the cornerstone of all of his marketing efforts, including his networking meetings. That morning became a turning point in LeBlanc’s business!

(1) First, write the first thoughts that come to mind. Don’t worry how long they run or how much space they occupy. Be honest and truthful, but approach it from the bright side. Take your time; make as many attempts as necessary. When you have something down, (A) circle each descriptive word that you’ve written, (B) then list all of the circled words on a separate sheet, (C) place the listed words in the order of their importance, (D) question whether each of the selected words are the most descriptive and colorful words available and (E) if not, add or substitute more graphic, illustrative or hard-hitting words.
(2) Draft a sound bite that runs one or two sentences. Begin with, and give prominence to, the most important words on your list. Although your sound bite should clearly and cleverly communicate your message, clarity is paramount. Don’t sacrifice clarity for cleverness.
(3) Mark LeBlanc suggests that you avoid the use of humor. “You may get people to laugh, when the real point is to be clear, congruent and consistent with your marketing message.” However, others disagree and recommend humor provided it clearly gets your point across. They believe that humorous intros can be memorable.
(4) Read the completed sound bite aloud several times and change whatever sounds awkward. Trust your ear. If you repeatedly trip over certain portions, change them to something more comfortable.
(5) Underline the key words to be emphasized. Recite your sound bite aloud to test whether the emphasis on those words works. Experiment with differing rhythms and intonations. Recite your sound bite to others and get their input on both the content of your message and your delivery. Consider making changes that listeners suggest. Test it on different groups to get diverse reactions.
(6) Recite the sound bite out loud until you believe it and feel comfortable delivering it. When you believe your sound bite, others will also. You’ll also sound more confident and convincing.
(7) Time how long it takes to deliver your sound bite. If it’s more than 30 seconds, cut it to 30 seconds or less, then try to lop off another 10 to 15 seconds without weakening the message. Don’t memorize your sound bite, instead picture the key words and reel them off in order as if you’re descending a ladder.
(8) Practice your sound bite in front of the mirror, in your car, in the shower. Audio and video tape yourself. Concentrate on looking sincere, enthusiastic and confident, but don’t overdo it. Don’t act, emote or be dramatic. Speak conversationally, with sincerity. Don’t be a ham or a clown, be professional.
(9) Practice, practice, practice – – – on your family, friends and pets. When you deliver your sound bite, imagine that your meeting the world’s greatest networker, the President, Nelson Mandela, Steve Jobs, Oprah or and your business depends on your being booked on her show.

(Excerpted from NETWORKING MAGIC: Making Connections That Will Change Your Life By Rick Frishman and Jill Lublin With Mark Steisel)

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