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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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Published on October 8, 2019

How to Advance Your Career (and the Big Mistakes You May be Making)

How to Advance Your Career (and the Big Mistakes You May be Making)

The late writer William S. Burroughs once said that “When you stop growing, you start dying.” It might have a morbid undertone, but it’s one hundred percent true in terms of one’s career.

The days of finding a job with one company that you can stick with for 30 years, and simply relax as you move up its company escalator are few and far between in today’s world. This isn’t necessarily bad news. On the contrary, it means that you’re the one in charge of shaping your career advancement.

By putting these principles and behaviors into practice, you’ll begin to see how to advance your career quickly. Ready? Let’s get started…

1. Define What Success Is for You

There’s no right or wrong definition of what success in your career looks like. The important thing is to figure out what success looks like for YOU. It might, and probably will, change along the way, but if you don’t have some sort of milestone on the horizon, then you won’t know which direction to go in.

Think about success in your career in terms of one year, five years, and 10 years. Once you have that, it’s time to lace up your boots and get to work.

2. Learn How to Develop and Follow a Plan

Nobody just stumbles upon success accidentally. Sure, they may stumble upon breakthroughs or new methods accidentally, but all success stories have one thing in common — a plan.

Establish a timeline for the things that you want to achieve in your career in the next year, five years, 10 years, and so on. Consider the skills that you’ll need to learn to make these things happen and work on acquiring them.

3. Surround Yourself With Those Better Than You

It’s a rule of thumb among musicians that if you want to get better, then you need to get out of the bedroom and play with people who are better than you.

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By surrounding yourself with people who are better than you and where you want to be, you’ll not only see how these people climbed to where they are in their respective fields, but you’ll learn from them and naturally want to push yourself to be better in your own job as well.

4. Seek Out a Mentor(s)

A mentor will not only be able to help you refine and reach your career goals, but will be invaluable in landing promotions and finding unadvertised job openings.

One unique approach is to work on fostering a relationship with a mentor both within and outside of your company. This will help in giving you different perspectives as you rise up through the ranks in your company and career overall.

5. Stop Wasting Your Mornings

You may not think you’re a morning person, but if you can learn to be one, you’ll thank yourself 10 years down the road.

Prepare a to-do list of tasks that you want to accomplish the day before and work on knocking them out for at least one hour before you respond to morning emails. The problem with responding to emails first, is you’re giving your attention to somebody else’s agenda, instead of plotting your own course for the day.

6. Arrange or Attend a Networking Party

If you’re attending networking events simply because you might get a few free drinks, you’re doing them wrong. These events are great for meeting new people and forming relationships. Your goal shouldn’t be to get hired by the end of the night, but to simply make a good impression by being friendly and authentic. So what’s next?

Reach out a few days later via email or on social media to follow up and connect!

7. Pick Up Some New Skills

Nobody wants to be the old dog that can’t learn any new tricks. To move up in your career, you’re going to likely need to pick up new skills along the way. Maybe your company offers on-the-job training or you have the option of taking online classes at night.

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By learning new skills, you’ll not only be able to expand upon what you can already do, but you’ll make yourself more valuable to your employer and future employers.

8. Exploit the Benefits Already at Your Disposal

Remember what we just said about the possibility of your company providing on-the-job training? Take advantage of these sorts of benefits!

If you’re working for a company that allows you to job shadow other employees or has company mixers, you should attend these. They not only allow you to develop your skills within the company, but show seasoned executives within your field that you’re interested in more than just clocking in for a paycheck.

9. Make Yourself Indispensable

Good help is hard to find and employers want to retain outstanding employees. If you can learn to make yourself indispensable to your company, you’ll not only communicate that you’re successful, but will have a lot more job security. What’s this entail though?

It’s actually not all that difficult. By being reliable, adapting to new challenges, and holding your own work and performance to a high standard, you’ll stand out among your peers and others will take notice. Easy enough, right?

10. Get Off the Fence

People who advance in their careers are those who don’t shy away from voicing their opinion and stand up with authority when the opportunity arises.

If a problem arises in your company and you think you might have a solution or are willing to work to find one, then let others know. Employers value and promote problem solvers. Start off with something small and work your way up towards tackling more difficult tasks and projects.

11. Don’t Wait for More Responsibility, Ask for It

If you want more responsibility in your job, then be open about it with your manager. Your manager may be so busy with their own work that they weren’t aware you were looking for more challenges.

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Just make sure you can handle it and that you already show strong performance in your current duties. And if your manager doesn’t seem supportive about offering you more responsibility, well, then it could be time to look for new employment.

12. Stop Wasting Time on What You Don’t Want

If your career goals start with “I should do this…” there could be a problem. This kind of language in referring to goals can doom them to failure because the want isn’t there.

Consider using the RUMBA method (Reasonable, Understandable, Measurable, Behavioral and Agreed) when setting your goals. That “agreed” part should really be “want.” By going after career goals that you actually want to accomplish, you’re much more likely to achieve them.

13. Seek Out Feedback and Apply It

Simply doing your job might not always push you up in your career advancement. Too often, employees just assume that their bosses will notice their performance strides and reach out when the time is right to advance.

Don’t be afraid to regularly seek out feedback and ask for constructive criticism. It not only shows that you value your manager’s opinion but demonstrates that you care about your job and want to become better in your chosen field.

14. Pick Your Bosses Wisely

Advancing in your career can move a lot quicker if you’re working for the right people. If your boss isn’t any good at their job or doesn’t value you, then moving up could become difficult.

A great boss though, will be able to help you capitalize on your strengths and be an advocate for your success. If there aren’t any strong developers of talent in your management chain already, then look around for some and seek them out as mentors.

15. Learn to Develop Your Sense of Timing

The odds of asking for a promotion or raise are in your favor with over 70 percent of respondents to a survey from PayScale reporting some success. One thing to keep in mind that can make all the difference is when you ask.

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Some corporate cultures may prefer that employees reach out about advancement during their annual review, but maybe you work for a more free-spirited startup. The best approach may be to take note of when others advance and ask about how the organization handles employee development.

16. Work Hard and Promote Yourself

Working hard and delivering a solid job performance are the keys to advancing in your career no matter what field you’re in. This doesn’t mean you need to be completely humble about your accomplishments either.

Keep a record of your positive impact within the organization and let others both within your company and your field know that you’re enthusiastic about your role and work.

17. Don’t Just Build Your Network… Cultivate It

It’s way too easy to add new people to your LinkedIn network and then forget about them for all eternity. Rather than just collecting business cards or social media contacts, you should be cultivating relationships with the ones you already have.

Follow up with people that you haven’t spoken to in a while, offer to connect them with somebody you know in their field, or ask about a new job title they may have taken on. Doing so could be the spark that leads to a potential job referral.

18. Join a Professional Organization

The National Association of (insert your industry here) and other professional organizations can still offer a great wealth of advantages from networking to industry insights, and skill development.

Even outside of professional organizations dedicated to particular job fields, civic organizations can also be fantastic for making new contacts. After all, so much about career advancement is who you know, and you never know who you’ll meet who knows somebody else who is looking for someone with your skills and experience.

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