As you network, whether for a new job or to grow your professional rolodex, you’ll often find yourself needing to give people a quick guide on who you are. Whether you’re asked it directly or it’s just appropriate for the situation, a 30 or 60 second elevator pitch is often the format you’ll be using to get people up to speed. It’s not going to be the best or most detailed version of your life story, but having a great personal elevator pitch is key to great networking.
People love talking about themselves, so a smart networker uses their elevator pitch to quickly introduce themselves and then move on to what matters most: engaging the other person on who they are or a common interest they can build a relationship around.
Here are the three components you need to put together a killer elevator pitch.
Start with the basics: your skills and, if you’re employed, your current organization and job title. Alongside that data, the beginning of your elevator pitch should primarily highlight your achievements or impressive responsibilities. Tell a small story with all this information that lets the people you’re speaking with about the context of your professional life.
An easy way to do this is to create a list of three points about yourself in your head. Start with your current responsibilities, head into past achievements, and give a wrap up about your ambitions for the future. For example, a salesperson at a sales networking event can say they’re responsible for outbound sales for small & mid-sized businesses, currently looking for a new position, have previously run and met large quotas, and are looking to get into sales team management.
Use the context of the conversation - the event you are at or common professional or personal interests - to determine the things about you that are directly relevant to your conversation partner. Relevance doesn’t have to be a direct statement of what you can do for someone. Instead, it can be about showing that you understand the person and their work and can be one side of a great dialogue.
For example, if you know the person on the other side is also working at a startup company, you might say something along the lines of, “I’m trying to delve more into the startup world and join a smaller team with a big ambition,” or “I’ve had several years in the tech space and actually worked at a company doing what yours does now.” This is the heart of a pitch that seeds the topics of later conversation.
An elevator pitch concludes after you’ve given enough relevant information about yourself and presented why the person you’re talking to should care about what you have to say. After that, the most important thing is to create a natural, flowing ending that promotes further conversation.
This part can be considered as the “but enough about me!” statement. To effectively wrap up an elevator pitch, it’s important to have an eye for continuing a conversation rather than being putting yourself in a situation where you end up talking more about yourself. Bring up something one or both of you brought up when introducing yourselves, ask them why they’re at the networking event, or for their unique perspective on something given their background.
Using this method to wrap up your elevator pitch is a great way to immediately guide the chat in a direction that involves you and the other person sharing ideas, exchanging best practices, and adding value to each other’s lives.
Note that you should never begin any conversation with your elevator pitch. Instead, start off a conversation with an observation or a question and use the pitch when the time is appropriate, such as when your conversation partner asks “What do you do?” That way, you have a natural conversation during which you can pull it off. And remember to have fun with it. Be yourself, strike up conversations, and always try to learn something new.