Editor’s Note: In anticipation of a class she is teaching called Personal Branding, Monique Stennis provided these tips on one useful networking tool: the “elevator pitch.” Learn more about the online Personal Branding class, which starts Monday, March 5, on the University of Redlands School of Continuing Studies website.
While some people are natural born communicators who jump at the opportunity to meet someone new, a great portion of us find it awkward, not to mention a bit terrifying, to introduce and talk about ourselves to strangers. Nonetheless, whether at a career fair or networking event, an elevator pitch can be an effective tool to make connections and help advance your goals.
An elevator pitch is typically a 30-second introduction to communicate who you are, what you’re looking for, and how you can benefit others. Because an elevator pitch is a prepared introduction that you can share with anyone at any time, here are some tips to keep in mind to make a true impact.
Keep it simple
There is no need to tell your life story; all you need to do is share information about yourself that will pique the person’s interest to learn more about you. With a smile, pleasant demeanor, and enthusiastic greeting, tell the person (here, using a University of Redlands student as an example):
- Who you are: “Hello, my name is Nathan Jones.”
- What you do and where you do it: “I am a second-year student at the University of Redlands majoring in global business and German.”
- A short story that illustrates what makes you unique and gives insight into how you work: “A lifelong goal of mine is to establish a career in Germany, which I solidified after interning there last summer.”
- What you are looking for: “I am looking to network with professionals who have experience in working globally.”
So altogether we have this simple paragraph: “Hello, my name is Nathan Jones. I am a second-year student at the University of Redlands majoring in global business and German. A lifelong goal of mine is to establish a career in Germany, which I solidified after interning there last summer. I am looking to network with professionals who have experience in working globally.”
Information to consider
Still feel stuck writing your elevator pitch? The beauty of an elevator pitch is that it’s completely your own: you can be as creative as you want in communicating who you are to others. You may want to consider including:
- Your background, major milestones, and achievements. You may have spent your summers volunteering at a local youth center; don’t underestimate experiences that helped you grow academically or professionally.
- Problems you have solved or contributions you have made. Avoid discrediting your role in solving problems that may have come up in your work experience.
- The advantages of working with you. Toot your own horn! Talk about why would someone want to work with you instead of someone else.
Don’t be shy about standing in front of the mirror to practice your elevator pitch. Better yet, ask a trusted confidant to observe you as you deliver your pitch. Ask for specific feedback on the length of time, eye contact, facial expression, and non-verbal cues. Make sure to leave out those pesky and repetitive “ums” and “ahs”!
Make it a two-way conversation
Since the overall goal in an elevator pitch is to make lasting relationships, be sure to encourage two-way dialogue after delivering your pitch by asking questions about the person you have met. You may want to consider asking the person if you can connect with them on LinkedIn or inviting them to an event related to something you are doing.
From an opportunity to study abroad to landing your first job, having an elevator pitch ready in your professional repertoire can lead to amazing opportunities.