The Elevator Pitch: A networking essential
If you’re looking for a new job, networking is an extremely important part of the process. And if you’re networking, you need to have an Elevator Pitch ready to go. Why? The benefits of networking are endless:
- It enables you to meet the key people in your industry;
- Offers a chance for you to get your name and merits ‘out there’;
- Helps you gain referrals, or better still get referrals
- Gives you experience of talking to the kind of people who you hope you will soon be working alongside.
With this in-mind, it’s important to keep an eye out for the right events in your area that will help you meet influencers within your chosen profession.
The most important tool within networking is the ‘Elevator Pitch’.
This is the term given to a 30 second speech, which is the time an average person will give you a ‘free pass’ to talk for before they either lose interest or have to get back to what they were previously doing.
Why do I need an Elevator Pitch?
The Elevator Speech is not about asking for a job, it is about ensuring that you connect with the right people. It’s about marketing yourself efficiently. Though you can have different variants depending on your audience, it’s important that you have an Elevator Speech ready for your next networking situation.
Preparing your Elevator Pitch
So, how do you concisely make the best first impression possible in 30 seconds?
Firstly, it is very important not to appear desperate! This is the quickest way to lose the interest of the person to whom you are speaking. You’re not trying to sell yourself, you’re trying to market yourself. The person you’re speaking to may not be hiring (right now). However, they may know someone who is, which means you must approach the conversation as someone that is networking and looking to make contacts in the industry.
Other things to remember include:
- Focus on key accomplishments: Try to relate your ‘pitch’ to the type of position you are seeking. What have you previously achieved in their industry?
- Avoid Labels: Most professions and industries can carry certain stereotypes. As you only have 30 seconds to work with, it might be wise to avoid ‘labels’ at this stage. Be interesting, but leave something for later in the conversation.
- Be natural: Yes, it’s effectively a pre-planned speech but it shouldn’t be obviously so! An obviously memorised speech will have the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve and the other person will turn off very quickly.
- Don’t be ‘me, me, me!’: While it is your window of opportunity, be careful to avoid repeating the word ‘I’ (ideally say it just once within your initial sentence). It is a conversation, after all.
- Avoid jargon: To make an impact in 30 seconds, try to be concise and use simple, conversational language.
- Prepare for follow-up questions: Look beyond the initial 30 seconds and ensure that you’re suitably equipped with half-a-dozen follow-up answers to likely questions you might get, that convey the depth of your knowledge of your chosen field.
- Practice! Once you think you have a good elevator pitch, practice! Say it out loud to all your family and friends until you can say it naturally and easily. Test it – what reactions are you getting? Are people interested in what you are saying? Do they want to hear more? Tweak it if you need to, so that the result is a powerful elevator pitch that is memorable and gets your phone ringing.
While an important ‘elevator pitch’ isn’t the be-all and end-all of job searching, being suitably equipped for all-manner of networking situations will only help your future career prospects.
Once you’re at a networking event, ensuring you’re prepared for the first 30 seconds of any meeting could just lead to the job opportunity you’ve been waiting for…