Our Experts | Anna Hermann

July 28th is national “Talk in an Elevator Day,” so it’s a great time to prep your elevator pitch! You hear it all the time in your college courses and from mentors, but it’s true – you really do need an elevator pitch. What does that mean? An elevator pitch is a 30-second snippet to pitch yourself in a sinch.

Let me begin with my own story about an elevator pitch, that I hope will persuade you to create your own. Recently, to my own disdain, I was attending a theatre show at E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron. I had waited in the long lady’s restroom line (as always, am I right?), and so I was one of the last people rushing to get to my seat before the show started.

E.J. Thomas Hall has three floors, and of course, as a theatre lover on a budget, my seat was in the mezzanine on the third floor. So there I am, rushing from the first floor restroom to the elevator. I get there and one other man walks into the small elevator with me. Can you see where this is going?

I said hello and he introduced himself as a high-level employee of the University of Akron – a great connection to have, I’m sure. He was very friendly and asked if I was a student, but I told him I had actually graduated from Kent State University, making him my rival. He laughed good-naturedly before the elevator popped open and he was gone. I stood there and realized that I didn’t have an elevator pitch. I’d used that sacred one-on-one time with a top-tier university employee to tell him… that we were rivals.

So, take my word for it when I tell you that you really need a defined elevator pitch. You never know when you’ll have a minute alone with someone important, even if it’s not in an elevator. Whether you’re pitching yourself, your company or your product, you can craft a tailored elevator pitch. Here’s how:

  • Explain what you do. Refine an introduction about yourself, or your company/product if that is what you are pitching. Explain what you do, and keep it succinct and clear (no industry jargon).
  • Define your goal. What do you want people to remember? Identify the main points you want to get across about yourself, your company or product. Make it about them, rather than yourself. Explain how what you do helps businesses.
  • Differentiate. Make it meaningful and easy to remember by using interesting facts, statistics or another unique differentiator that makes you the best at what you do.
  • Ask a question. Relate it back to them. How does your company handle xyz? It could even be asking to give them your business card. Keep them engaged before they get off that existential elevator!
  • Practice, practice, practice. Write down your pitch to help refine it, then read it aloud to make sure it’s the appropriate length. Practice it on your family, friends, classmates or colleagues to get comfortable using it, and also to get any feedback.

Luckily, my story has a happy ending. I realized my error right away and thought about it through the entire first half of the show. At intermission, I looked for him again, eager to redeem myself. I spotted him and quickly went over, actually introduced myself and what I do, then asked him more about himself and his job. It was a pleasant interaction – much less cringeworthy than the first time around.

It was also a good lesson to learn that you can always follow up with someone – if you run into them again, find them on LinkedIn or even ask to be re-introduced by a mutual connection. The elevator pitch is just your introduction, but you shouldn’t stop there!

Are you ready to use your own elevator pitch to land a job? Call one of our recruiters today and give them your spiel! You never know what job they’ll have waiting for you after you knock ‘em dead with your pitch.

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