Alaska Small Business Development Center

I just met you, and this is crazy, but here’s my business card, so call me maybe.

December 1, 2015

I just met you, and this is crazy, but here’s my business card, so call me maybe

How to give an effective elevator pitch

Although elevator rides can seem like they take forever, especially for people not fond of small spaces or awkward social interactions, most elevator rides in Anchorage will only take you 30 seconds or less. So what do you do when you want to make an impression and sell your knowledge, skills, and abilities to someone who can help your career? The answer is a short, succinct elevator pitch that you can use as a template whenever the need arises.

How can an elevator pitch help you? First, you need to ask yourself what you want your pitch to elevator-926058_1920 accomplish. Are you trying to sell a service or product? Are you currently on the job market looking for open positions in your field? Are you looking for a mentor who can help you navigate your academic and career trajectory? Are you trying to extend your current network? Knowing what you want will help you craft your elevator pitch more effectively. Beyond your elevator pitch, having clear goals will help direct your limited resources in the right direction.

Second, the process of creating an elevator pitch will make you consider what is truly important and unique about you or your company. If you only have 30-60 seconds, then you only want to highlight information that has the greatest impact. Pick three things that will set you apart. Focus on those three things. Giving a laundry list will only result in diluting your message. Third, you need to think about why those three things whiteboard-849809_1920are important to a future employer. It’s critical to think about your audience. That’s why you shouldn’t consider your elevator pitch to be carved in stone. Consider it a template that can be altered to meet the needs of the situation. Fourth, ask yourself, in a perfect world, who would you want to listen to your elevator pitch? Networking is essential, but you cannot be an effective networker unless you recognize the movers and shakers in your area. Want to work for a petrochemical company? You should do your research on local petrochemical companies. What is their mission, values, and vision? Who is the hiring manager who would be able to offer you a job or sign off on your product/services? That doesn’t mean you should exclude people who you don’t consider important, but you can tailor your elevator pitch if you have done your homework and know to whom you are speaking.

Ok, so now you know what you want to accomplish, the three things that you are going to focus on, and a list of people who would be ideal candidates to receive your speech. The last component of your elevator pitch should be some call to action. You could end with, “Let me give you my resume in case a (insert your field here) position opens up” or “Here is my business card. If you have any available time, I would very much like to meet with you to discuss how my service could meet your business needs.” The right call for action is going to depend on what you hope to achieve. That is why it’s so important to start with goal setting.

Now you need to practice your speech. It is likely to feel awkward at first. Don’t lose hope! It will get better the more you give it. The goal is for it to feel natural, so that you can deliver it without even thinking. This clears up space for your brain to think about other things, like how to customize your pitch on the fly. Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback when you practice your pitch. Your friends and family can be great resources. Even if you never give this pitch, the process of developing this quick speech can be very helpful in clarifying what you want, the attributes that you want to highlight to potential employers, colleagues, or clients, and who might be influential in your field. It won’t work every time you give it, but capitalizing on a captive audience is not crazy. It’s a smart way to network and will hopefully (maybe) result in a call.

Written by Kori Callison, Ph.D from College of Business and Public Policy at University of Alaska Anchorage

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