Are You Taking the Elevator Up?


It is likely that you will encounter someone at a business or social event that asks about your career. “So, what do you do?” For many the natural reflex is to answer with your job title and employer. That generic response might lead to a round of “Oh, do you know so-and-so?” and most times it is a non-starter for anything productive.

A better response will include the right words to capture their interest and hopefully open the door to an opportunity. What you need is an elevator pitch!

Here are a few tips for an effective good elevator pitch:

1.) Know your audience. Even with an audience of one, you must understand the person’s needs, expectations, and challenges. What will get their attention? Think what you OFFER not what you WANT or NEED.

2.) Consider what is of interest to your audience. Don’t recite a list of generic achievements or capabilities. Instead focus on problems that you are able to solve, opportunities that you can uncover, partnerships that you have developed, and products that you have introduced.

3.) Don’t waste words with clichés…such as results oriented, customer focused, or thrive on challenge. Not only are those terms meaningless, they are often a turn-off to people who have heard them 10,000 times! Also, choose language that is genuine and reflects your speaking style.

4.) Identify real examples of what you can deliver and have done. Is it important to the mission of your target audience? Talk about an action not an attribute. For example closing million-dollar accounts versus strong sales skills.

5.) Be brief! Most experts say keep the pitch under 50 words. Some say less than 35 words. The goal is to share quick information so the other person is interested enough to ask you a question. If they say, “Oh that’s interesting,” you have not struck gold. If they ask questions to probe for details say, you have succeeded.

Here’s an example of a good pitch:

“I uncover ways for companies to cut energy costs up to 45% through smarter lighting choices, retrofitting of electrical devices, and simple-to-execute energy plans. I create low-cost, no-headache strategies that promote goodwill in the community and generate savings for years to come. I make “going green” easy.”

Elevator pitches are not created as quickly as they are spoken. Take time to work through the steps above. After that, continue to refine your message until it is pitch perfect. Practice your pitch until it sounds natural. If it sounds stilted, you will come across as inauthentic. A carefully-crafted messaged, expressed sincerely, will provoke interest and may lead to an opportunity down the road.

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