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Is Your Elevator Pitch Working?

Apr 8, 2008
WRITE A GREAT ELEVATOR PITCH

How do you know if your Elevator Pitch is working? Do people ask you questions? Are the questions about your work, your success or processes? Do they want to learn more? Do they invite you to talk about your credentials? Do they offer to introduce you to others? Do they query you on the technologies you used? Do they show interest so you can invite them to meet at a future date? Do they ask for your business card?

If you can't answer yes to most of these questions, your elevator pitch is not working.

Imagine if you will, you are in an elevator with the CIO of a company for which you want to work. As luck would have it, you have exactly three floors together and you have to generate enough interest to merit a request for your card, a meeting or an invitation to step out of the elevator to continue the discussion. The whole idea of the elevator pitch is to communicate very quickly why they want to learn more.

Simply stated, the Elevator Pitch is your most powerful and important tool to gain the attention of a person who will offer you leads, an opportunity to interview or introduce you to others who will provide them.

Whether you are talking to an old friend or a new acquaintance, you want the individual to have a clear snapshot of what you do, why it is important and what distinguishes you from others who do the same thing. Your strategy is to make them so interested in your story they ask questions to learn more. It is always a mistake to assume that because you have known someone for a long time that they know what you do. Thus, the elevator pitches for old friends and new acquaintances have the same objective; generate leads, introductions and interviews.

The tactic you use is to relate what you do to what they do. Understand your client. If, for example, you are talking to a financial person and you are an IT professional, you probably don't want to stress the latest technologies you implemented in record time. You do want to stress how what you did affected the bottom line or the impact your work had on the stock or upcoming IPO.

Critical to this conversation is your own understanding of what you do, what makes you unique and why anyone would care. It must be clear, succinct and interesting. This is your opportunity to convey your passion for what you do and the importance of the outcomes. A few ideas to get you started.

Say what you do first, your title is not especially important.
"I bring new products to market." Or, "I am a marketing professional who brings new products to market."
Say what you do that is different from other marketing professionals.
"I bring new products to market on time and on budget."
Say why that is important, or the benefit.
"I bring new products to market on time and on budget which contributed to my employer being profitable in their last three quarters."
Say how you do this.
"My ability to keep communications open between the development staff, sales and marketing means there are no surprises and we handle any thing that comes up."

You may want to conclude your pitch with a request. Depending on your audience that request can be for introductions, leads or advice on who might point you in the right direction. The key is to convey your excitement that what you do is important and unique.

The last and perhaps most important part of the pitch is the "take-away." What is the one thing you want the listener to take away from the conversation? To determine if your message is working, give the pitch to a teenager. If they listen and can tell you what you do, you are on the right track.

OK, that's the theory of the Elevator pitch, here's reality. In all my years working with Technology Professionals and Executives, I've rarely found anyone who has their pitch down cold. It is difficult to see our own image. Yes everyone knows what to do, few do it very well. Often, the pitch is lukewarm and the words just stumble out because the job seeker isn't comfortable with it. Or worse, it sounds canned and doesn't change with the audience. My advice? Practice, Practice, Practice.
About the Author
Better Control, Faster Results. Highly Targeted Job Search Solutions. Purchase "Job Search Debugged, Insider's Guide to Job Search for Executives and Technology Professionals," read blogs and contact the Coach at http://www.jobsearchdebugged.com.
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