"So, why don't you introduce yourself?"
What do you do? Why don’t you take a minute to introduce yourself? These questions can pop up at conferences, house parties, and job interviews. They can really come around anywhere and anytime, and in my experience, it tends to be when you’re least expecting it.
As an introvert, these situations used to make me clam up, stutter, and internally panic. After all, they can make your career, but only if you have the right answer. Thankfully, I’ve had mentors who were willing to coach me through these types of experiences. Through their expertise, I’ve realized that conversations that trigger social and/or professional anxiety are far easier to handle when you do some preparation in advance. You (hopefully) wouldn’t try to audition for American Idol without first choosing an audition song, so why would you enter into a conversation without some forethought. That’s why it’s so important to have an elevator pitch.
A good elevator pitch serves two purposes. It answers the “What do you do?” question so that you’re not standing there babbling aimlessly, and it opens a door to a more in-depth conversation – whether it be with a prospective employer or a Bumble date. If crafted correctly, an elevator pitch gives a brief and intriguing peek into what you do, who you are, and why all of that matters.
Now, there are a few ways to approach the elevator pitch.
You can focus on your client’s pain points. For example, “I help large companies stay relevant through the use of strategic branding and social media marketing.” This formula explains who your work with, what you do, and how that helps alleviate their pain. In my opinion, this is the best type of elevator pitch to pull out at social gatherings. It’s succinct, to the point, and opens the door to broader areas of conversation – after all, not everyone you meet at a party will be part of your industry.
Another option is to focus on the person’s need. A pitch like this would sound something like, “I provide branding and web design services to local startups.” This is the pitch I like to pull out at conferences, industry events, and when I sense a potential client is listening. It’s the most direct, which is great when people are asking just to be polite but also gives potential clients the chance to jump in and ask more. The point of this type of pitch is that someone will ask a follow-up question if they have a need you can address. That way it’s their idea to work with you – not you soliciting work.
A third way to approach your pitch is to emphasize the results your client is looking for. A statement such as, “I provide increased sales to fashion brands through comprehensive rebranding services,” focuses on a specific objective and audience. This is the way to go in job interviews. It dives deeper into your niche, demonstrates your knowledge of the industry, and provides a solid base for you to use when diving into more details regarding your experience.
Now, I’m sure there are other approaches out there that work just fine. These happen to be the ones that work best for me. Yes, some people will think these sound unnatural – and you most certainly shouldn’t copy them word for word. Chew on them, test them out in various settings, and come up with variations that sound natural when spoken aloud. The more time you spend contemplating, crafting, and practicing your pitch, the better it will get.
Also, realize that elevator pitches aren't just for spoken conversations. They can be used to open cover letters, craft About pages, or explain your job to Grandma and her friends. Whether applying for jobs or chatting with the person sitting next to you on the airplane, it’s important to be prepared for every situation and conversation that could arise. Having a succinct, understandable, and meaningful way to talk about your work will help all of these conversations go smoothly.
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