In tough economic times we have to maximize every opportunity we have to connect.

With competition at unprecedented levels and budgets tightening, having 30-second, one-minute, three-minute, five-minute, and 10-minute elevator pitches that layer on each other cannot be a luxury or remain on a to-do list.

You have an opportunity to build your brand every time someone asks "what do you do? Who do you work for? Who are your clients?" Your value-proposition pitch is your conversation starter. And as the conversation grows, delve into the next layer, then the next, to build your credentials, and rapport, while sharing more information.

A little preparation goes a long way to delivering success—but most pitches are lost in the preparation, not the delivery.

When we are given the opportunity to stand out from our competitors, we must be memorable! What will standout so that people who are there will tweet positively about your company, your presentation, your product? What will they remember? What will they say about you?

In times like these, we cannot afford to be ordinary if we have a coveted speaking position at an industry gathering or the opportunity to guest-post or write an article for a publication. When you have a golden opportunity to connect with all of the audience, a conference cannot just be about swapping business cards with a subset of the audience after the presentation.

I was recently at an event where four companies were given 10 minutes each to pitch their services to the audience. Are there many better opportunities to get your name out there?

In a business where technology is at the core of the solutions these companies provide, not one spoke about the technology, the interface, the design, the usability, or their customer service.

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Gary Cohen is founder and managing partner of Speakery (, a marketing and business transformation company.