Perfecting your elevator pitch

By Megan Warner on 11 Feb 2016 - 13:26

What would you say if you bumped into Alan Sugar in a lift? Would you manage to secure a valuable business connection? Or just mumble an awkward “hello”?

OK, so you might not want to work for Alan Sugar but the concept remains the same: networking opportunities are everywhere and you should make the most of them. With an elevator pitch at the ready you will be prepared for chance encounters which could boost, or kick-start, your career.

A good elevator pitch is clear, engaging, and to the point. It should explain who you are, what you do, and why you’re good at it in less than 30 seconds.

In order to develop your perfect pitch you need a clear idea of your career goals. What do you currently do? What do you want to do? And what skills do you need to excel in your chosen field?

Once you have established your goals, think about how to sell yourself. What’s good about you? What’s unique about what you do? Why are you, or will you be, better at this thing than someone else? A good pitch will justify claims with proof points, for example: “I make the best ice cream, because my Dad is Italian and I have been making ice cream since I was 3 years old.” Your proof points should demonstrate your strengths and prove you are passionate about what you do.

DEFINITION:

An elevator pitch is a short summary designed to explain and sell an idea in the time it takes to ride an elevator (about 30 seconds). Although commonly used to refer to a business proposal, creating a ‘personal pitch’ which focuses on your skills and career goals is a useful networking tool.

Keep your pitch structure simple and the content concise. It’s a good idea to have a range of claims, and proof points so you can quickly adapt your pitch depending on who you are speaking to in order to make it more relevant and interesting to them. For example, speaking to a farmer: “I make the best ice cream, because my Dad is Italian and I have lived on a farm since I was 3 years old.”

The entire objective of the elevator pitch is to establish rapport, and get a new contact; ideally one that has promised to help you in some way.

Once you are happy with the content of your pitch start practicing! Test it out with your friends and coworkers, the next time you meet someone new, practice on them too. Try and gauge people’s reactions to see what works and what could be changed. Whilst you’re talking remember, enthusiasm is key. The more confidence you display in yourself and in what you’re saying the more receptive the person listening will be.

Speaking to people is the most important way to establish new connections and create opportunities for yourself, so it pays to have something prepared to say! Hone your elevator pitch and keep perfecting it as your career develops, it should grow with you as your skills and interests evolve.

Next time you bump into someone important in a lift, hopefully not Alan Sugar, introduce yourself, engage them with your pitch, and get those contact details.

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