Why You Need an Elevator Pitch
You’ve finally found a job you love. The work is interesting; your colleagues rock; and you couldn’t ask for a better employer. What’s more: you’ve got flexible hours, as well as a generous salary and benefits package.
In short, you’re doing great, and you’re happy where you are. So, since you’re not looking for a new position, you don’t feel the need to keep your elevator pitch honed.
Here’s why: you might not be browsing job ads and you might not be thinking of a promotion (yet), but you never know when an interesting opportunity will suddenly come along.
You might share an elevator ride from the lobby to the 36th floor with your company’s CIO and find out he’s planning to start a project you really want in on. Or you might be playing a game of golf when you run into an executive of a company you want to land as a client. Or you could meet an editor of a trade magazine at a dinner party and see an opportunity to publish an article on your area of expertise.
All of these scenarios offer you high potential to advance. Because even when you’re satisfied with where you are, you should be thinking moving your career forward. You don’t have to be looking for a new position; but you should proactively be working to get on high-profile projects; bring in new clients; and enhance your professional authority. By doing this, you’ll become a more valuable asset to your employer—and that will result in more responsibility, more seniority and a better salary.
In order to take advantage of this potential, you must be prepared to communicate who you are, what you do and how you can add value for the other person in under a minute and a half. In other words, your elevator pitch should come as naturally to you as introducing yourself by name.
On the other hand, if you don’t have your elevator pitch worked out, all of that potential could just dissipate within seconds. Why? People are busy, and most don’t have time to wait around while you search for the right words. So while you’re flailing around looking for the right thing to say, your lead is almost certainly going to lose interest.
That’s not even the worst part. No, the worst part is that while this person might not have noticed you before, you’ve now left him or her with a distinctly unfavorable impression. And that stacks the odds against you in any future meeting.
By now, you’re hopefully convinced that it’s a good idea to revisit your elevator pitch and polish it up again. Keep the following tips in mind:
- Keep it short. It should be 60 to 90 seconds max.
- Be clear. There’s no room for fuzziness or modesty. Your pitch should be clear and confident.
- Tailor it to your audience. State how your specific input could benefit the listener.
- Include a call to action. In order to benefit from your input, the listener will have to get you on a team, sign up as a client, or publish your work (using the examples above). You should be very clear about what action you want your listener to take.
- Ask for a follow-up meeting. As Jacqueline Whitmore states in her Entrepreneur article “7 Essentials for an Elevator Pitch That Gets People to Listen,” you should request permission to follow up at a time that’s convenient to the listener. When that permission is granted, always follow up.
Your elevator pitch is your single biggest face-to-face marketing tool for yourself. Keep it up to date, polished, and practiced, so that when an opportunity arises, you use it to your benefit.