So What's Your Elevator Pitch?
August 25 , 2017
By Russell Correa, Ed.M., LMHC (guest blog writer)
When I first moved from New York City to Miami in 2008, I didn’t know a single person – literally!
Not one friend, not one business contact.
So I did what most professionals do looking to jumpstart their list of contacts – I hit the Miami networking circuit. If you're unfamiliar with the Miami networking scene, imagine a unique combination of social outing, dating scene, excuse to get free drinks, bad memories of high school cliques and ultimately, connecting to like-minded professionals who seem to share “synergy” with you (which ultimately leads to the synergy email, which leads to the synergy meeting).
To this day, I still remember my the first networker I ever attended in Miami – an event put on by the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce at the old Gianni Versace mansion off Ocean Avenue. I walked in and was immediately steamrolled by a mass of people handing me their business cards. Each interaction must have lasted about 15-20 seconds. Finally, someone asked me what I did for a living and I became tongue-tied. They looked at me oddly and walked away. By the end of the evening, I must have had about 50 business cards but not one relationship. It was then when I realized I had no idea how to explain in a concise and interesting way what I did for a living. I didn't have an elevator pitch.
Now this was over 9 years ago now and luckily I’ve worked on this. But the thing that struck me then still rings true to me now in networking environments, when you only have a few seconds to make an impression and create meaningful work contacts.
- People are really bad at explaining what they do for a living in a concise and compelling way.
- People are really bad at understanding how they are perceived by others.
- People are really bad at delivering an effective elevator pitch that makes others want to learn more about the person and what they do for a living.
So what exactly is an effective elevator pitch?
There are lots of different ways of looking at this, but if we use the classic definition of this, what would you want another person to know about you and you work if you only had the length of an elevator ride to explain yourself – think about 45-60 seconds. Could you do it? Could you do it in a way that would make the person want to learn more about you, the mission of your work and its impact on the communities you serve?
Think of it in a different way – if you had 60 seconds with a potential funder, could you blow them away with your story? Would they want to meet with you again to hear more about your work? If your answer isn’t an immediate yes, then a little work on your elevator pitch – which ultimately reflects your professional image and brand – might be a good idea. Here a few strategies to consider:
- Always start with a “hello” and “what’s your name?” It’s amazing how many people forget this and launch right into their rehearsed monologue.
- Practice and commit your bullet points to memory but don’t sound like a robot.
- Try answering the following questions in 15 words or less (each).
- Why do people like me?
- Why do people value my work?
- What makes me, or my work, different?
- Consider telling a story about your work using a client example instead of the standard description of what you do.
- Slow down – 60 seconds is not a long time but running through your words like a speed reader will not gain much interest.
If you would like to learn more on this topic or had questions about my Coaching and Training services, contact me at:
About Russell Correa, Ed.M., LMHC
As the Principal of Zeta Consulting Group, Russell Correa brings close to 20 years of experience as a licensed clinician, certified executive coach, HR & Management consultant and trainer to his work. Russell also serves as a board member for Allegany Franciscan Ministries, a funder of nonprofits in the Miami, Tampa Bay and Palm Beach areas.