A great elevator pitch can be the perfect accessory to bring to any networking events – in fact, it’s useful to have for plenty of professional situations.
What is an Elevator Pitch?
As the name suggests, an elevator pitch should be designed to be shared in about the time it takes to ride in an elevator – usually between thirty seconds and a minute. The term is often used by salespeople or producers, if you happen upon the opportunity to quickly pitch a potential client or financer in an informal setting (like an elevator) you want to be ready with a short and snappy sell. Now you probably won’t be trying to sell paper or a script idea, but you will be trying to sell yourself, so don’t hold back.
When Can I Use My Pitch?
You can use your pitch to jumpstart a conversation or introduction almost anywhere – networking events, job fairs, interviews, conferences, even actual elevators.
You should have different versions of your pitch ready for different situations (you’ll likely want to stress different points talking to classmates at a networking event than you would when introducing yourself to a potential employer), and always be prepared to delve deeper into what you’re saying; with any luck your introduction will lead to a longer conversation and you need to be able to answer questions and back up what you’re saying.
What Should My Pitch Include?
Any pitch should include who you are, what you do, why you’re different, and why they should care.
First off, you’ll want to include your name and what your deal is.
Are you a student? Recent grad? Freelancer? Job seeker? Entrepreneur? Established professional?
Next, you’ll want to get into a few details that make you stand out.
Show that you’re proud of your accomplishments, it may feel like bragging, but if you have something significant to share, go ahead! If it’s relevant to your industry the person you’re talking to will likely find it interesting.
Now, what’s your goal? You entered into this conversation with a purpose, right?
You don’t need to come straight out and ask for a job – depending on the situation, that would probably be a little too forward. Instead, you could ask about company growth, or recruitment strategies, or offer to buy them a coffee while you discuss the industry.
Finally, why should the person you’re talking to care?
Whoever you’re talking to shouldn’t feel like they’re getting the same speech as a dozen other contacts, do something to make it personal, and give them a reason to remember you. Finish with an open ended question to open up a larger conversation.
Remember, you aren’t trying to “close the deal” in this brief exchange, you’ll likely be looking to either walk away with a business card or create a jumping off point for a longer conversation.
I’ve Written My Speech. Now What?
Writing out your speech is great for organizing your thoughts, but you need to hear yourself say it out loud. Talk to yourself in the mirror, record it on a webcam or your phone, or better yet, recruit a friend to listen.
You’ll likely find that your speech is too long and too structured. In school you’ve been trained to write a certain way, but people don’t talk like that in everyday conversation. So loosen up, and start making edits. Watch it back, or ask a friend for feedback. Are you (or they) bored by the time you get to the end? Then your pitch is too long. Focus it down even farther, remember, you can still elaborate on important points later.
Don’t worry about memorizing your pitch, while preparation is important, you don’t want to sound overly rehearsed. This is a conversation after all, not a monologue.
Now get out there and network, with newfound confidence and your awesome elevator pitch.