Do you follow the question “what do you do?” with a panicked “uhhh…”? If you do, then you’re not capitalizing on the opportunity to give a 30 second elevator pitch.
The business world is one big networking contest, and you need to hit those opportunity balls as they come.
Not sure how to do that? We’ve got you covered with the guide below.
Why You Need an Elevator Pitch
It’s not what you do – it’s who you know. That saying isn’t 100% accurate, but it holds more truth than is probably fair.
The entire business world is a popularity contest, even when you look at digital strategies like SEO. The more “friends” (links) your site has, the better your page will do.
So, how do you link up to people in real life? Business cards only do so much – and honestly; they get thrown away.
If you have the guts, you can sneak into an office and deliver donuts with your resume, as this guy did. Or – and this is probably more advisable – you can work on your elevator pitch.
What Does and Elevator Pitch Entail?
Let’s say you’re a freelancer – but what kind? If someone asks you what you do, they’re going to need more information than that.
Are you a freelance writer? Photographer? Are you using freelance as a term to cover up the fact that you’re a food delivery driver because you can’t get a job?
Your elevator pitch is your twenty to thirty seconds where you explain what you do and why you’re important.
It also gives you a way out of awkward silences and finally provides an answer to the dreaded “what do you do” that you get from acquaintances.
Still not convinced? Here are some specific reasons why you need one.
Reasons You Need an Elevator Pitch
If the information above didn’t convince you, hopefully, these reasons do.
1. It Gives You an Identity
We mean this in the most general of ways. If you’re still working up to what you want to do in life, giving yourself a title and working on figuring out how your role is important does tons for your self-confidence.
And self-confidence is essential when you’re trying to network.
2. It Makes People Pay Attention
Imagine you’re on your way to an interview. There are three people in the elevator. You, someone who looks around your age, and someone who’s obviously an executive.
You say hi and introduce yourself to the people in the elevator. When the executive asks your name, you tell them and give them a quick elevator pitch.
My name is blank, and I do this, but my main goal is this because I want to solve this problem or do this thing better.
Then you all get off the elevator together, and it turns out that executive is sitting in on your interview. Pretty good start for showing initiative and confidence, right?
And even if that executive didn’t sit in on your interview, maybe they’d remember your name if you applied later in life.
3. It Can Help with Sales
So far, we’ve concentrated on the elevator pitch as it relates to employment networking – but it’s not that one dimensional. You can use an elevator pitch to find investors, gain exposure, and even sell products.
If someone asks you what you do and you can use thirty seconds to sneakily tell them why they need your product – you’ve just created a potential customer.
Even if it never pans out, you never know who around you heard what you said and needs that exact service.
Leads come from everywhere – don’t rule word of mouth out.
How to Create Your 30 Second Elevator Pitch
Now that you’re convinced you need one, let’s talk about how to create the perfect speech.
It’ll take some time and patience, so don’t rush through it. You’re going for quality, so slow down and pay attention to the next steps.
Step 1: Write down What You Do
This is the easiest step of all. If you had to whittle what your job entails or what your company does into five bullet points, what would they be?
Try to keep those bullet points short and to a sentence, at most.
You can write them as you think of them, then look over them and rank them in importance.
Number one and number two are what will make it into your speech – but three four and five are all there for backup, in case someone ask you for more clarification.
Step 2: Write down Why You Do “What You Do”
Maybe you started the job you’re in because you needed money. While that’s relatable (we all have to eat!) it’s not very persuasive. Think long and hard about why you get up and go to work every day.
What does your job or your business provide that others don’t? Compassion? Better products or faster service? Try to really think of this as it relates to people – not things.
For example, a nurse’s could be something like “I want people to feel safe and less scared when they’re under my care”.
Get your why down to a sentence or two, at most. Now you have your what and your why. Let’s move on to your who.
Step 3: Why Are You Essential?
This seems a little backward – usually you’d do the who part first, then the what and the why. And that’s the order you’ll present your speech.
But going through the what and why steps first give you a new perspective and a better big-picture idea of how you can prove as an asset to someone else.
If you’re the personal assistant to the CEO, you can say that – but give yourself more credit. Something like “I organize and facilitate meetings so that the leadership can do their jobs effectively”.
If you’re making an elevator pitch for business – are you the owner? The top earner? A hardworking employee?
Step 4: Put It Together
Take a good, hard, look at your what, why and who. Do whatever edits you need to do or switch out your priorities. Your red pen is your friend.
When you think you like the phrasings of these sections, read them out loud to yourself. That’s the best way to check for phrasing or repetitive word mistakes.
Once you’ve proofed each section, it’s time to start putting things together.
4.1 Start with Your Name
Easy, right? Start your elevator speech by telling someone your name and then go into your who – and don’t undersell yourself.
4.2 Add the What
Now that this person knows who you are and who you are in your company, tell them what you do. Be descriptive and honest – you can be proud, but try not to brag right-out.
You only have so much time, so keep it to two “what” points.
4.3 Add the Why
You’re almost there! After the who and what, add in your why. This will finish your speech off on a unique note and make you seem self-aware and mature.
Step 5: Practice, Edit, and Practice Again!
Congratulations – you now have a 30 second elevator pitch. Now read it to yourself over and over in front of the mirror.
You don’t have to read every single word that you wrote. Just hit the main points, and make sure you do so every time.
If you find you’re not loving one part of it, go back and work on it again. Your pitch will always be a work in progress – and yes, you’ll have to edit and rewrite as you change or advance in your career.
Step 6: Give Your Pitch
This is the hardest part. Writing things down about your job is easy. Finding the courage to talk about yourself to strangers? Not so much.
Try it out somewhere you’re comfortable, but not where you know everyone. Maybe it’s a Meetup you’ve meant to go to, or it’s a friend of a friend, that they invited out to dinner.
Take note of their reaction. You’re aiming for someone to be interested enough to ask you more questions.
That doesn’t mean that every person you pitch to will be the perfect audience – but every time you deliver the pitch, it’s practice.
You’ll learn who cares and who doesn’t and which parts of your pitch garner the most attention.
Anyone you meet is a potential sell – like someone you walk by at a conference. You may be there to get pop up display ideas, but you could come home with a lead for your next job.
You never know until you try!
Take a Deep Breath
Now that you have your 30 second elevator pitch done and ready to go, set a goal for yourself. Aim to tell your pitch to 1 or 5 people each week.
Maybe you aim for one a day. It’s all up to you – but it’ll get easier with time.
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