Can you communicate your professional value in less than 60 seconds? Do you know what to say when you meet a new contact at a networking event? Do you panic when a potential employer asks, “Tell me about yourself”?
When it comes to networking, it is critical to make a positive first impression. The average person forms a positive or negative impression of any new person they meet within a period of about 30 to 60 seconds. When you meet a new contact, the first words you say will impact their view of your forever.
To create a positive first impression, you need to prepare and practice a personalized “elevator speech” – or “value proposition statement” – so you know how to take advantage of key opportunities to introduce yourself.
What is an elevator speech?
An elevator speech (or personal value proposition statement) is a summary statement that establishes how your unique set of skills, knowledge, and capabilities can benefit a professional contact or potential employer. It is generally the first statement you make when meeting a new contact while networking and is used to introduce yourself and begin an engaging conversation.
An effective elevator speech is concise and clearly describes who you are, explains your unique value and benefits, and asks for a specific next action step.
A statement that is too long or unclear will inevitably do more harm than good when attempting to build meaningful networking relationships and achieve your professional goals and objectives.
Why do you need an elevator speech?
One of the most important parts of any networking strategy, your elevator speech is a powerful tool that can help you positively differentiate yourself with potential employers and professional connections. A well-developed elevator speech significantly increases your chances of securing an interview for a new job opportunity or a promotion.
Whether you are actively seeking a new job or simply planning the next step in your career path, preparing and practicing a “go-to” elevator speech/value proposition statement will make the networking process less stressful and more productive.
How to craft a powerful elevator speech
Through extensive research and professional collaboration, our career coaching experts have created a list of critical components and best practices to craft an effective elevator pitch.
Establish the WHO. Hook your listener by telling them who you are (specific to the purpose of the contact). Provide details about your education, training, expertise, experience, and current education or employment. Lead with the most impressive or memorable details to keep your contact interested.
Describe WHAT you do and have to offer. Walk your listener through your story. Explain what you do in your current position that is relevant to their needs. What specific type of job opportunity are you seeking? What experience and expertise can you offer in such a role? Describe three differentiating traits, features, or strengths that you possess that are directly related to the job you want.
Explain WHY and HOW your abilities set you apart. Elaborate on your unique qualities, explaining how your skills, interest, and experience will make you an invaluable asset in your desired position or with your desired employer. Back up your explanation with relevant real-life examples, and use hard facts and data to demonstrate key results you have achieved in the past.
Indicate WHICH type of referral you are seeking. You will not achieve the networking results you are hoping for unless you clearly state what it is that you want – whether you are seeking a referral to a potential employer or developing another professional connection in your field. Be prepared to make a specific ask.
Write it down, first. Writing down and editing your personal value statement gives you the chance to develop it more fully and ultimately create the best result. Plus, the process of writing (and rewriting) your elevator speech will embed it into your long-term memory.
Keep it brief. To maintain your listener’s attention, your elevator pitch should be concise, lasting only about 30 seconds to one minute. If your elevator speech is well-crafted and executed, your new contact will be intrigued and want to learn more, anyway. If you receive meaningful follow-up questions, you will know that your elevator speech was a success!
Rehearse with a trusted coach or peer. After you have written and edited your elevator speech, spend time practicing with a coach, friend, co-worker, or family member. Rehearsing your elevator speech will ensure that it sounds smooth, natural, and authentic as you put it to use when meeting someone new or during a live networking event.
Be prepared for a variety of networking opportunities. Depending on the situation, an elevator speech may be best presented as a monologue. In other cases, it might be more suitable to squeeze your pitch naturally into a conversation in a dialogue form. You may even want to use it in an interview situation. Remember, your statement should always be relevant and appropriate for the venue, situation, and audience.
Take advantage of career coaching services. Developing a strategic elevator speech is no simple task. Fortunately, an experienced career coach can provide you with all the tools and techniques you need to craft a pitch that differentiates you from your peers and creates a positive first impression with anyone you meet.
Career Creators Consulting | Networking Coaching
Need help developing your elevator pitch? Our career coaches can help you develop a personalized elevator speech that will have a powerful impact on all the right people.
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