There’s nothing worse than crossing the path of an important client or work connection, and finding yourself dumbstruck by the “So what do you do?” line.
In my recent Careers Agony Aunt column for Greenbiz, I explained how having a pre-prepared elevator pitch up your sleeve can help you out of those sticky situations and into the good books of the person you’re trying to impress.
But first, here’s an example of what not to do:
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“I am a sustainability consultant who writes strategies and supports employee engagement for companies wanting to be more responsible. I can help management to identify their challenges and sometimes design programs to help turn the strategy into practice. I enjoy working with companies who care about the future.”
According to Harvard Business School, your pitch should communicate:
- what you want the listener to remember about you
- the value you bring in terms of impact
- the unique benefits you bring to business
- how what you do is different from the competition (your “USP”)
- your immediate objectives and
- what you expect the person you’re talking to to do for you
So how do you do it? Get out that laptop and start writing! Here are my 10 tips for a killer elevator pitch:
1. Start with a hook
This is the statement that makes the listener want to know more.
2. Be concise
30-60 seconds if said aloud, the equivalent of two to three floors in an elevator or around three sentences.
3. Be clear
Be clear about the problem you are solving and use simple and clear language, not in-depth technical details, so that even your granny would understand it.
4. Be confident
Effectively communicate the competitive advantage of your specific product or service. Be positive and proud of what you have done.
5. Be enthusiastic
Make your story come to life so that your listener wants to hear more. Make your enthusiasm contagious.
6. Be visual
Put yourself in a client’s shoes and paint a visual picture based on how you want them to feel if they work with you.
7. Be skills focused
Don’t focus on roles or functions, instead focus on your qualities or skills.
8. Be targeted
Know your audience well enough to weave in specifics that may interest them.
9. Be goal orientated
Once you identify your audience, you need to be clear what outcome you want from them. This is your call to action.
10. End with a question
To engage in the two-way conversation that makes for good networking, end with a question, such as, “Tell me about yourself.”
Once you’ve done this, it’s time to try it out. Start by recording a video of yourself presenting your pitch and play it back. Then see what feels good and what feels uncomfortable. Trust your instincts and be yourself. Sleep on it, circle what works, edit, adjust and jiggle it around until you feel confident pulling it together. Remember, just like for job interviews, practice makes perfect: talk to a mirror or into your iPhone video recorder until you’ve got it just right.
Here’s our example after the Ten Tips treatment:
“I create strategies for small to medium-sized businesses that want to increase their competitive advantage through sustainability while also making profit. I have propelled the leadership forward on their sustainable business journey for Client 1, Client 2 and Client 3 (name them). I have a hands-on approach to implementing live projects, incentivising employees to act and measuring impact with hard numbers. Getting clients clear on what is working and what isn’t is key to how I add value.”
Let me know how your new pitch works out for you! If you need help with your personal branding, LinkedIn profile or with your networking strategy, don’t forget to register on my contacts page for some practical, one-on-one support.