Yes, we live in a digital age. The costs and benefits of online networking have, at this point in time, been discussed to death. As an entrepreneur, it is vital to recognize that, despite possessing the ability to make connections with a click of a mouse, it is in-person contact that frequently makes the deepest impression.
You may have heard of the concept of an “elevator pitch,” a roughly 30-second speech designed to establish your brand and communicate your goals as concisely as possible.
The beauty of the elevator speech is that it can be used to contribute toward a myriad of objectives: whether speaking to potential investors, employers, or even dates, transparent communication is key.
As with any other business initiative, the key is doing your research and tailoring each speech to the individual you are speaking to. It turns out that there’s a lot that goes into that 30 seconds.
What do you do? Why do you do it?
Considering that you may very well spend a third of your life working, you might think little about your own job description. I recommend drafting several brief blurbs about your occupation, then considering your audience.
Will your target be familiar with the jargon unique to your field? In any case, cutting dense language is probably only ever beneficial. Is your current experience relevant to what you are trying to achieve? If not, it may be more be productive to discuss past experiences tuned to your audience.
It may only be an audience of one, but this particular audience can have a huge bearing on how your career proceeds. You’re out to sell a product, and that product is you (Unless you are actually selling a product, mind you.). It’s an old cliché, but it exists for a reason.
Another part of the initial explanation is a hook. Your audience may not be familiar with your name, but if you provide them with a question regarding a business need that they might have, it’s likely to make a lasting impression.
What makes you worth consideration?
What value do you add to your audience? Whether looking for investors or employees, a discerning businessperson wants to find individuals that have a talent, product, or service to contribute.
Plus, it’s not only about being skilled. There’s a good chance that you’re being compared to other candidates, and many of them may also have a strong background to stand on.
In that case, what makes you unique? Point to a specific job or experience that make you qualified. Differentiate yourself from your competitors in one way or another. What advantage do you bring that sets you apart from others in your field? Use specific incidents and accomplishments as examples.
When describing your skillset, using action verbs is a way of asserting your proficiencies. For example, saying that you “produce detailed business plans” sounds better than “having experience with business plans.” Always be specific and quantitative, giving your audience an accurate scope of your capabilities.
What do you want to happen next?
You’ve got them figuratively wrapped around your finger with your past achievements. But now, the only achievement that you should be worried about is leaving a lasting impression and encouraging further action on the part of your audience. Get to the point and sum up your goals, and give out your business card or brochure while asking for theirs. This creates a physical reminder of your conversation, as well as an outlet for you to make further contact.
And don’t forget to ask for the sale! There’s no sense in going through an entire pitch without trying to close it. Any further opportunities are always positive; getting your foot in the door is only the beginning.
Putting it all together
Maybe it’s a little overwhelming to consider all of these steps. However, despite the amount of thought required to craft each part of the speech, each section is little more than a sentence or two. For your convenience, the following is the basic anatomy of an elevator pitch.
- Hook or lead
- (Very brief!) Description of profession
- Unique value proposition; what can you bring to their business?
- Call to action: what do you want to happen next?
- Exchange of information and closing
What else do you need to do?
Well, practice always helps. The old tradition of rehearsing in front of a mirror remains a useful tool here; ensure that you are speaking slowly, with good posture and body language, and making eye contact. Time yourself. If your elevator pitch is over thirty seconds, you may want to consider revising it to cut information that isn’t strictly necessary. Consider mechanical elements such as sentence structure. What works on paper might not necessarily work when said out loud.
Elevator pitches may be short, but they are mighty. Never underestimate the value of making a face-to-face connection with another professional. The business world was built on meetings and networking, and knowing the tools to success can bring you further than an email ever could.