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Why your Elevator Pitch is important, and how to master it

Why your Elevator Pitch is important, and how to master it

Many people often hear the term Elevator Pitch and see it as a quick sales pitch to try and get your foot in the door. However, there is much more to it than that but first things first, what is an Elevator Pitch?

An Elevator Pitch is a quick, well-crafted (and often memorized) speech designed to sell a product, or yourself, in a very short time frame. It’s name, often credited to Ilene Rosenzweig and Michael Caruso, is derived from the idea of bumping into a senior staff member in an elevator and having to try and win them over by the time they’ve reached their floor. Thus Elevator Pitches tend to last between 30 to 90 seconds, and, when successful, end with an exchange of contact information and a continuation of the discussion. 

“The purpose of an elevator pitch is to describe a situation or solution so compelling that the person you’re with wants to hear more even after the elevator ride is over.” – Seth Godin

Why is it important?

So now you know what an Elevator Pitch is, the question is what makes it so vital to success within the world of work? There are several reasons:

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It Doesn’t Make Them Yawn

You may think you have the best idea in the world, or you are the best candidate for the job, but don’t overestimate the amount of interest they will have in you or your product. Your elevator pitch acts as a buffer, giving you the in and shows the value of you or your idea in the smallest timeframe possible.

It Organizes Your Thoughts

If you’ve ever been asked to describe something to someone without preparation, you’ll more than often find that you ramble on adding ideas here and there, or referring back to previous points. This makes explanation a tedious and lengthy process, even if they’ve explicitly asked you for the information. By preparing an Elevator Pitch not only do you have a script ready for whenever the opportunity arises, but it allows you to put down in writing why you think you’re the best candidate for the job, or why your company or product is the best of its kind. It organises your thoughts and allows you to critique the key points that you think make it/you a success. 30 seconds isn’t a long time, so making sure you include the points that’ll sweep someone off their feet is crucial.

Not only that, but still considering the personal element: by having an Elevator Pitch prepared it eases the anxiety of having to interact with someone new, and prevents you getting caught off-guard when someone asks “What do you do?” or “So, what’s your company?”

It Helps Identify Your Market

So you’ve decided on your dream job, or the sort of investor you would like, and now you’re on the hunt. Considering an Elevator Pitch allows you to question the language you need to use when talking to those you want to impress, as well as what sort of arguments and ideas will impress them. After all, language is a social construct tailored to every form of group, and in order to join the group you’ve got to speak the lingo.

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We’re In The Digital Age!

With the growth of social media, the internet, and fast-paced information, it has become more and more difficult to make new professional relationships. By crafting an Elevator Pitch it allows you to have a prepared script for developing new relationships. After all, it’s intention is to continue conversation after the 30-second timeframe, and to allow networking. It’s great to be prepared for the few minutes you might catch someone without headphones in their ears or reading their Kindle.

How to Put Together an Elevator Pitch

Now you know the importance of having a pitch ready, there are a few guidelines to consider when putting together a pitch to make it awesome. Not all of the following points are necessary, but all can be more useful in prompting further conversation:

Show them what you can do

If you’re representing a company, it’s normally best to open with the problem that the company solves as it offers something that might be of potential interest. If you’re representing yourself, it’s often best to open with some of your key qualifications or experiences. An example for a company may be:

Don’t you hate it when your internet keeps cutting out? We’ve offered internet services for 5 years, and have a 97% uptime – the best of all companies within the local area.

Problem, and solution! Or an opening for an individual may go a little like this:

Hey, [INSERT NAME]. I’m a post-doctorate studying the psychology of shopping behaviour.

A short sentence combining your area of expertise with your qualifications.

This isn’t a sales pitch, promise!

Disarm the recipient by making clear that your intentions are to continue the conversation more than to hard-sell them. This can be done by either stating what you can offer without asking if they have need for it, or if you’re selling yourself, by simply saying what your desired position or field of work/study would be. This is normally more easily highlight with an example, and so continuing from our internet provider analogy:

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Many of our customers seem to be very happy with the consistency and speed of our internet services.

You’re from Derby? Me too!

Drop hints and potential links to organisations, locations, and institutions. This allows for the potential to have something in common with the recipient – you may have studied at the same University, or grown up in the same town – but also allows for potential future networking as it allows them to consider people they may already know from these links.

How about you?

Not forgetting that the role of the Elevator Pitch is to entice future conversations, it is normally best to end asking a question or for the opinion of the recipient. The easiest is often, “What about yourself?” but it could be more specific to what your pitch is related to. If we continue with the Internet provider example, you could end with the question, “Do you ever have problems with your internet?” or “Out of curiosity, which provider are you with? And why did you choose them?” These tend to be less successful than the more open question I mentioned formerly.

And there you have it – you’ve crafted your pitch, rehearsed it in the mirror, and are ready for any opportunity the world may throw at you. Half the success of sales, or gaining investments or work, often lies in seizing opportunities. Master your pitch, and become the person you want to be. Good luck!

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.imgix.net

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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