5 Tips for Delivering the Perfect Elevator Pitch By: Yudy Pineiro

An effective elevator pitch could be the difference between a new connection and a lost opportunity.

You’ve heard the questions before: “What do you do for work?” “What is your business about?” Questions like these could lead to your next job or client, but only if you’re prepared to deliver a good elevator pitch.

An elevator pitch is similar to a personal selling statement, yet different from a sales pitch because it’s more of a conversation starter. A good pitch lasts between 15 and 45 seconds — about the length of an elevator ride (which is partly how it got its name).

Whether you’re standing in the elevator, walking down the hall, or meeting someone new at a networking event, you are faced with a limited amount of time to make a connection. Good elevator pitches should be interesting, brief, and memorable. They should also be flexible — given that they’re meant to be conversational and informal, be sure to make room for questions and answers. Prior to drafting your pitch, consider your objective. Are you promoting your organization, pitching an idea, or looking for a new job? All of these would require different scripts. You might also want to consider who your target audience is, what problems they have, and how your product or service can fix them. Regardless of your objective, the techniques for drafting a successful elevator pitch are the same. Below are some guidelines.

Capture their attention

Answer the question: Who are you? Introduce yourself and note your credentials such as your major or degree. If possible, reference something that differentiates you from your peers, such as technical training. The start of a conversation is also the perfect time to establish a relationship. So if you happen to know you went to the same college or worked at the same firm as the individual, mention it at the beginning. This will ensure that you capture the person’s attention.

Note your career or business goals and experience

Once you’ve completed initial introductions, draft a short, one-sentence story that answers the question: What do you/your business do? If your job title is broad or highly specialized, provide a description instead. When the person understands your role and goals, then he or she is in a better position to help you or possibly connect you to someone who can. Because time is limited during an elevator pitch, it’s important to avoid getting bogged down in detail. The key here is to make sure your story highlights what you can do for your listener, the value you can deliver in the role, or the problems you can solve. In another sentence, emphasize your interest or experience in the field. Avoid making fluffy statements such as “I’m passionate about working with children.” Instead offer something concrete, along the lines of “I’ve taken childcare courses and volunteered at the local day care.”

Point to qualifications

To make a successful elevator pitch, you’ll also want to point to your qualifications. Now is the time to share information about some combination of your leadership, experience, achievements, expertise, skills, and strengths. Answer the questions: What makes you qualified to do your job/run your business, and how long have you been doing it? If you’re a new graduate, point to your college major. If not, leave it out. If you’re affiliated with industry organizations or have specialized certifications, make a note of it to your listener.

Highlight unique qualities

After establishing your background and goals, you’ll want to point to any qualities, experiences, or achievements that make you stand out. That person may already know somebody with 15 years of experience in childcare, so what makes you such a catch? Perhaps you volunteered in overseas schools, learning how to care for impoverished, underprivileged children. Or maybe you have extensive knowledge in child psychology that would allow you to identify and support children with psychological issues. Consider what special niche or extensive knowledge you can share with your contact that will set you apart from the rest.

Ask a question

As you close your elevator pitch, make sure to ask an open-ended question that allows the individual to answer. This can help engage the person in a longer conversation. For example: “If you have some time, I would love to meet with you in person to hear more about your organization and any opportunities.” Or, you can say something like, “Would you be able to put me in contact with the person in charge of business development so I can tell them more about what I can offer your company?” And, of course, be sure to ask for a business card so you can follow up.

Practice, practice, practice

Take your time to craft your pitch. Practice it aloud and time it to make sure it’s short enough. If you can, practice with friends to gauge their thoughts. Cut out anything that’s unnecessary. Remember, your pitch needs to be short and engaging. You don’t have to share every unique aspect of your job or every accomplishment, just enough to pique interest from the other person and land you a follow-up meeting. Most people will go through multiple drafts before settling on the words that are just right.

Be enthusiastic and smile when delivering your pitch. You should also sound natural, not rehearsed — people can tell if you really love what you do and believe in what you’re saying or if you’re just trying to sell them on your idea by delivering a rehearsed pitch. Practice in front of a mirror and practice regularly; your elevator pitch should be committed to memory so you can use it at any time.

As you practice delivering your elevator pitch, monitor your body language. Crossing your arms, fidgeting, or using distracting hand gestures can weaken the impression you make, so take care to ensure that you look as confident as you sound.

Good news is, the more you practice, the easier it will become to remember all the elements so you can sound off a stellar elevator pitch at any given moment. Also, don’t forget to be flexible. You may even consider creating different pitches for different audiences. At the very least, be open to making changes depending on the conversation and the person you’re speaking with. It’s alright to vary your words as long as the message — and end results — are the same.

Below are some fill-in-the-blank elevator pitches to get you started. Modify these as appropriate and incorporate the additional elements discussed above.

Elevator Pitch Example #1

Do you know how many people [the main problem your clients have]? Well, what I do is [briefly explain the solution you provide]. I’m a(n) [__________] with [experience/qualifications], and I specialize in [__________].

Elevator Pitch Example #2

I’m [name] and I provide/help/serve [target audience] with [product or service]. It helps/is a solution for [problem] and allows them to achieve [desire].

Elevator pitches may not be the easiest things, but once you have them down you’ll be making connections like a pro.

Navigating a Career Fair

Prepare, Plan and Execute

What is in a Career Fair?

Opportunity, Networking, Information, the ability to generate leads and more.

Make the most of it!

Things to Do Before the Fair:

  1. Review the list of Employers
  2. Do your research -know the products, services, clients served, etc. Review their websites. Make a cheat-sheet if you want.
  3. Dress Appropriately – Professional and clean
  4. Bring your resume – make several copies
  5. Practice your elevator speech (introduction) SMILING Required! Be aware of your body language. You will never get a second chance to make a first impression.
  6. Determine your expectations (you are generating leads, developing your network and expanding your communication skills) You will be selling yourself in a face to face conversation.
  7. Create your own strategy
    • Who do you really want to talk with? Would you wait in line to talk with this organization?
    • Which organization would you want to just obtain information from?
  8.  Be positive, confident and put your best foot forward
  9. Make a list of questions beforehand
    • What can you tell me about the positions you are looking to fill?
    • Do you have a written job description I could take with me?
    • May I take literature on your organization?
    • Can you recommend any one I should contact to obtain more information?

During the Fair:

  1. Survey the set-up – determine your key employers and have a game plan.
  2. Approach as many employers as you can
  3. Observe the organization’s representative – Are they professional? How are they treating potential candidates? Are they paying attention to you? Remember, as much as the organization’s might be “interviewing” you, you also can observe and “interview” them.
  4. After talking with the representative, ask for a business card and make any notes on the back to help you remember and for potential future correspondence.
  5. Be polite and give others room
  6. Think about your “fit” with the different organizations. Do you have a personal values statement? Does it match or fit in with theirs?

 After the Fair:

  • Take inventory – How did it go? What did you learn? What improvements could you make? What would you di differently the next time?
  • Review the literature you obtained – research the websites and seek more information if applying for a job. Connect on LinkedIn.
  • Decide what follow-up is appropriate for you – a hand-written thank you note, an updated resume, writing sample, reference list or anything the representative might request

BE YOURSELF!

Successfully attend a Job Fair

When you’re job searching, take some time to attend job fairs. You’ll have the opportunity to meet with employers that you might not be able to access any other way. Plus, job fairs and career expos often offer networking programs, resume reviews, and workshops for job seekers.

What can you do to compete with the crowds attending job fairs? These tips will help you get ready to attend and maximize your opportunities while you’re there.

  • Dress for Success. Attend the job fair dressed for success in professional interview attire, and carry a portfolio. However, do wear comfortable shoes, because you will be standing in line.
  • Practice a Pitch. Practice a quick pitch summarizing your skills and experience so you’re ready to promote your candidacy to prospective employers.
  • Bring Supplies. Bring extra copies of your resume, pens, a notepad, and business cards with your name, your email address, and cell phone number. You might also want to consider bringing “mini resume” cards as an efficient way to sum up your candidacy.
  • Check Out Companies. Many job fairs and career expos have information on participating companies on the job fair web site. Be prepared to talk to hiring managers by checking out the company’s web site, mission, open positions, and general information before you go. If you demonstrate knowledge about each company or manager you’re talking to, you’ll certainly stand out from the crowd.
  • Arrive Early. Keep in mind that lines can be long, so arrive early – before the fair officially opens.
  • Attend a Workshop. If the job fair has workshops or seminars, attend them. In addition to getting job search advice, you’ll have more opportunities to network.
  • Network. While you are waiting in line, talk to others. You never know who might be able to help with your job search. Along the same lines, remember to stay polite and professional. Even if you’re feeling discouraged in your job search, don’t vent to other fair-goers about your situation or about any specific companies. Stay positive and make the most of the opportunity!
  • Show Initiative. Shake hands and introduce yourself to recruiters when you reach the table. Demonstrate your interest in the company and their job opportunities.
  • Be Enthusiastic. Employer surveys identify one of the most important personal attributes candidates can bring to a new position as enthusiasm. This means that employers want to see you smile!
  • Ask Questions. Have some questions ready for the company representatives. The more you engage them, the better impression you’ll make.
  • Collect Business Cards. Collect business cards, so you have the contact information for the people you have spoken with.
  • Take Notes. It’s hard to keep track when you’re meeting with multiple employers in a busy environment. Jot down notes on the back of the business cards you have collected or on your notepad, so you have a reminder of who you spoke to about what.
  • Say Thank You. Take the time to send a brief follow up thank you note or email to the company representatives you met at the job fair. It’s a good way to reiterate your interest in the company and to remind company representatives that you’re a strong candidate.

By: Alison Doyle