10 tips to nail that elevator pitch
If you’re heading to a networking event, there is one important thing you should not forget. Actually, you should always have it to hand, as you never know when you might need it: the elevator pitch!
What is an elevator pitch?
Simply put, the elevator pitch is a way to successfully introduce yourself in, let’s say, less than 30 seconds. Imagine that you are looking for a job or starting a new company. You step into an elevator and the person who can help you and make a difference in your life is standing right there. This is your only chance to grab their attention! What are you going to say to them?
I remember when, around eight years ago, I was just starting my coaching business and I was hopping from one networking event to another. Very often, the conversation would go something like this:
Them: “So, what is it that you do?”
Me: “I am a coach.”
Them: “You mean like a sport’s coach?”
Me: “No, I help internationals who struggle with their careers.”
Them: “ Ahh, I understand. You are like a recruiter who advises them on how to find a job.”
Me: “Mmm, not exactly, sometimes yes, but more often than not they do not know what kind of career they want, so I help them figure it out first.”
Them: “Ahh, yes, I see… You advise them on what kind of job they should be doing.”
Me: "No, I coach them, which means I ask them questions, so they can figure it out for themselves."
Let's just say it was a painful process!
What makes an elevator pitch great?
Many, many networking events later, I finally finetuned my elevator pitch, and along the way worked out what makes an elevator pitch great. So that you don’t have to go through the same painful process I did, I have created this handy list of tips.
1. Be short and to the point
After all, you only have 20 - 40 seconds! The shorter the message, the higher the chance that the other person will remember you and what you said.
2. Describe who you are and what you do in two sentences
If you have your own company, describe the way you help your clients. If you have a corporate job, talk about your biggest achievements. If you don't have a job at the moment, talk about your strengths and the unique qualities you possess.
3. Clearly state what you need from the other person
Are you looking for contacts, a new job, or specific support? Or would you like to arrange a follow-up meeting or call the person you are talking to? Tell them that.
4. Use simple language and avoid jargon
Do not confuse people with words that they will not understand. Unless, of course, you know for sure they will understand what you mean.
5. Have a couple of different variations ready
Firstly, you will need different versions of your elevator pitch, depending on who you talk to. Secondly, if you are going to use the same exact pitch multiple times during the same networking event, you will bore yourself to death. After all, variety is the spice of life!
6. End with a question
You want a response or reaction from the other side. The best way to get this is by asking a question.
7. State your intentions upfront
Think about what you want to achieve and make this very clear. Are you in need of a new job, contacts, or do you want to promote your company?
8. Know your audience
It is not always possible to find out who you are going to talk to and what this person does. But, if you are going to a networking event, you can at least study the purpose of the event and, if possible, the guest list beforehand.
Practice makes perfect, as they say. Listen to yourself speak, out loud. The best way to do this is in front of a mirror or to record yourself on your smartphone. Do you smile? Are you deadly serious? Self-awareness is the key to mastering your performance, even if the performance only takes 20 seconds. Remember, you can never make a first impression a second time.
10. Be authentic. Be yourself.
The delivery of your elevator pitch is as important as the pitch itself. Don’t try to sound like everyone else. Think about what is unique about you and your style and deliver your pitch accordingly. The best way to do this is to think about one word that describes you. For example: Powerful, inspiring, energetic, calm, cheerful. This way, your pitch will be unforgettable and unique.
Elevator pitch examples
Want to see what this looks like in practice? Here is my own elevator pitch from the last networking event I went to:
“My name is Dorota Klop-Sowinska. I am an international career coach, helping women from all over the world to change their careers, in a way that reflects their values, talents, life mission and purpose. I have recently finished writing my first book on this topic and I am currently looking for contacts in the publishing world and companies who would be willing to sponsor my book. Do you know anyone who could help me?”
“Hi, I’m Sophie and I am a social media queen. My company “ABC Get followers NOW!” is helping my clients get thousands of followers on Facebook and Instagram every month. Thanks to this, they consistently increase their sales results. Do you know of any small business owners that would benefit from my services? Feel free to send them my way.”
Or this one:
“Hi, I’m Eva and I am a CFO of a multinational energy company. I am responsible for a team of 200 people and my last project saved the company 100 million euros. I am looking for a new career opportunity in the renewable energy sector. Would you happen to have any connections in this sector?”
So, these were the 10 commandments of a great elevator pitch. Let’s get to know each other, share your pitch in the comments below!