The elevator pitch – seldom actually delivered in elevators, it is a staple of professional networking.
It can be challenging to sum up what you do, who you do it for and why you do it in 30 seconds or so. The challenge, however, is not insurmountable.
Here are 5 tips for perfecting your elevator pitch:
1. Be Personable
Remember: You’re trying to connect with people, and you won’t make a connection if you dryly recite your pitch as if you’re reading off your resume. You need to be personable.
Career coach Judi Perkins suggests you develop your pitch by saying it, rather than writing it.
“It’s going to have slang, a run-on sentence or two – like you talk,” she says. “It’s practiced, but it sounds like it’s not.”
Rather than trying to memorize your entire spiel, simply memorize the key points that you want to address, leaving room to customize your pitch for different audiences.
2. Be Tweetable
We live in the age of brevity. Much communication these days is done in 140 characters or less.
Kerri Garbis of Ovation Communication suggests applying the “tweet test” to your elevator pitch.
“Can you tweet what company or product is about?”
If you can’t, she says, “you might not be sure about what you want to sell, resulting in a lack of focus or clarity in your pitch.”
3. Focus on Relationships
Beware coming off as a snake oil salesman, Garbis warns.
“[Focus] on building a human relationship with the person you are speaking to,” she says.
Or, as Patti De Nucci suggests, ditch the “pitch” altogether.
“Think of it as your self-introduction, a way of concisely letting people know who you are, what you do, who you serve, how they benefit and anything interesting that shows how you, or your product or service, is unique,” says De Nucci, a networking expert.
4. Be Relevant
Avoid just putting your head down and delivering your pitch – find out a little about your audience first. Ask what they do, or what they hope to gain from networking, and then tailor your pitch to them.
As Garbis says, “Put your pitch in their world.”
5. Ask for Something
Close your pitch with a question, says Neepa Parikh of Golden Gate University’s career planning office.
Ask for advice, a contact, an introduction – something to move the burgeoning relationship forward. Just don’t ask for a job.
At a minimum, ask for a business card or permission to connect via LinkedIn.
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