Why you need to prepare an elevator pitch

It’s virtually impossible to separate networking and branding. We work our whole lives to build a reputation (our brand) and spend our whole lives building and maintaining relationships with others (our network). Networking and branding occur simultaneously. We can’t build a reputation without an audience—our network—and we can’t build relationships without proving to those people who we are—our brand. Some key components of branding for any job seekers or professional include an elevator pitch, branding statement, brief bio, and positive social media presence.

Why you need an elevator pitch

elevator pitchSomewhere along the way, as we connect with new people, we’ll need to introduce ourselves. Most of us will stumble over our words when introducing ourselves. We may fail to mention more than our names and where we live. If we’re lucky, we might remember to mention our career field, course of study, or current job role. When meeting someone impressive or important, we’ll feel even more nervous.

I once met Alanis Morissette while traveling with other college students in China. What are the odds? I felt incredibly lucky. Since the internet wasn’t a big deal then, and social media didn’t exist, Chinese citizens in the area didn’t recognize her. I introduced myself, stumbling over my words. She was gracious and asked me several questions about our cultural exchange team and experiences. Looking back on that encounter years later, I realize I simply didn’t have the communication skills to pull myself together to deliver anything remotely like an elevator pitch. I’m sure if I’d attended a workshop about branding, branding statements, or elevator pitches I might have felt slightly less tongue-tied and more confident.

What is an elevator pitch?

Nothing really would have ever come of meeting a celebrity, but it was fun and exciting. But there are often serious outcomes when we meet new employers, recruiters, colleagues, supervisors, friends of friends, and others who can connect us to great job leads and want to hire qualified employees. This is why you need a smooth elevator pitch ready and waiting to roll off your tongue. An elevator pitch is simply a brief persuasive speech. It should be about 20-30 seconds long—it takes this long to ride an elevator from the top to bottom floor without lots of stops. In the context of your job search, your elevator pitch will “pitch” you to potential employers, colleagues, and others who may connect you to job leads. Your elevator pitch should provide basic introductory information. It should briefly explain who you are, where you’re been, and where you’re going. But it should also explain why.

I recently led a one-hour workshop about branding, including elevator pitches, for seniors at Southside High School in Batesville, Arkansas. I was grateful for the opportunity to visit with students and learn about their “Future Stories.” A charter school, Southside High School teachers and administration work with students to provide various vocational, career coaching, and higher education opportunities to students to make their future stories a reality.

During the workshop, I helped students understand how to craft an elevator pitch.

How to create your own elevator pitch

  • Keep your target audience in mind (for job seekers, it’s employers and new connections who may help them find jobs).
  • Stick to 30 seconds in length. This may require lots of practice. I have taught hundreds of college students in Oral Communications, and trust me–it takes time to practice and perfect something which seems as simple as a 30-second spiel. Don’t beat yourself up if it takes you a long time to shorten your elevator pitch.
  • Avoid overused words, clichés, and jargon. Use terms you’re totally familiar with to ensure smooth delivery. Include keywords important to your industry. But don’t use so many keywords that an average person can’t weed through unfamiliar terminology.
  • Remember the “why.” It’s great to state that you just graduated with a bachelor’s degree and are seeking employment in Rhode Island. But why? Many students mention that they’re pursuing a degree in a certain field. Why? What do you plan to do with that degree later in life? The WHY grabs your listener’s interest.

Sample elevator pitches

Two graduating seniors from Southside High School agreed to record their elevator pitches and share them. Thank you, Brooke and Natalie, and congratulations on graduating. I look forward to keeping in touch as you continue to pursue your goals.

Brooke Talley’s elevator pitch:


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Natalie Humphrey’s elevator pitch:


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Need help creating and delivering your own elevator pitch? Contact me for help.

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