Your mother may have insisted that you never talk to strangers, but Mike Roth will tell you to do just the opposite. Roth, the president of Roth Consulting Group, talks to strangers at every opportunity he gets. He has also perfected the elevator pitch, an essential marketing tool for the budding entrepreneur.

The elevator pitch is a short speech, designed to grab a listener's attention and describe who you are, what you can do, and why the listener needs you. It should make an impact and leave an impression. So why wouldn't it work?

"The best thing about an elevator pitch is it doesn't have to happen on an elevator. Anytime someone you don't know is within three feet of you, they are fair game," Roth maintains.

The three-feet rule is Roth's equivalent to a Broadway prompter. If someone steps within his circle, his speech comes out. Step one is the introduction: "Hi, I'm Mike. And you are?"

Always begin with a question you know the listener has an answer to. It guarantees a conversation. Step two is another question: What do you do?

This opens up the door to the question leading to the pitch. If they do not immediately ask what you do, say, "That's interesting. You're probably not interested in what I do." In order with the manners their mother taught them, "Of course I d' immediately follows, taking the conversation to your pitch.

Step three: Make the pitch. "I work with people like you, who are sick and tired of low numbers and being shopped around. But you probably don't have that problem."

Make sure to close with a negative. If you do, you can't be rejected! If the listener says, "I don't have that problem," you can congratulate him or her, and add, "Well you probably don't know anyone who does." If they can relate to the problem, pull out your business card.

Roth says the elevator pitch is just like fishing. You need the bait, the hook and the barb. The bait is the emotions someone is feeling: "Sick and tired." The hook is the problem they can relate to: "Being shopped around." The barb is pointing out the mistake people are making. When you forget the hook, people don't see how they can use your service. The barb, the part that keeps the fish from slipping away, is your negative conclusion: "But you probably don't have that problem."

The better the bait, the stronger the hook, the more likely you are to catch a fish.

There are five easy rules to follow to make sure you have a flawless pitch:

"”Use it! Remember the three-foot boundary. If someone crosses into your circle, they are fair game

"”Keep a negative perspective! We're all just little kids who want their toys back.

"”Open with a question that you know they can answer. If they can answer the question, they will talk to you.

"”Use a hook. They need to know you can fix their problem.

"”Use a barb. Keep that sale from slipping away.

So next time you are standing next to a stranger on an elevator, a bus, in line at Starbucks, or even at the gas station, remember that breaking your mother's rule could open your door to more business than you know what to do with.