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Unless you’re in business for yourself, the idea of marketing yourself may not sound like anything that concerns you. But it’s a skill everyone needs to master.

When you meet someone through networking, especially if that person could possibly lead you to a job opportunity, you have a very limited amount of time to capture their interest in selling yourself. This is where an elevator pitch comes in handy.

Elevator Pitch

A personal elevator pitch is a quick summary of yourself. It’s named for the time it takes to ride an elevator from the bottom to the top of a building (roughly 30 seconds or 75 spoken words).

An elevator pitch will be useful to have ready throughout the interview process as it is typically a great icebreaker to start a conversation. The elevator pitch can also be a helpful framework as you’re planning your answer to the popular interview question, “Tell me about yourself”, or considering what to include in a cover letter.

Another benefit of a personal elevator pitch is that it prepares you to introduce yourself when exciting opportunities present themselves in everyday life. In line at the grocery store, at a cocktail party or networking event, maybe even in an actual elevator, the pitch can quickly help new contacts understand why they should connect with you or consider you when an opportunity arises.

Your elevator pitch should answer the following questions: Who are you? What do you do? What do you want?

Start by introducing yourself

As you approach someone to pitch to, start off with an introduction. Give your full name, smile, extend your hand for a handshake and add a pleasantry like, “It’s nice to meet you!”

Provide a summary of what you do

This is where you’ll give a brief summary of your background. You should include the most relevant information like your education, work experience and/or any key strengths. Consider the most important highlights on your resume. Once you’ve got it down to just a few points, organize them in a way that makes sense in your story.

Explain what you want

This step will depend on what you’re using the pitch for. The “ask” of your pitch could be consideration for a job opportunity, interest in an internship, or simply to get contact information. This is a good opportunity to explain the value you’ll bring, why you’re a good fit for a job, or generally what your audience has to gain from your interaction.

Finish with a call to action

You should end your elevator pitch by asking for what you want to happen next. Examples can include asking for a meeting, expressing interest in a job, confirming you’ve fully answered an interview question, or asking someone to be your mentor.

Asking for what you want can be intimidating, but it’s important you give the conversation an action item instead of letting it come to a dead end. Remember: You’ve just met this person, so make the ask simple, with little required on their part.

After you’ve taken time to develop a pitch that’s focused on your background and immediate goals, practice and refine it. Reading your elevator pitch out loud to yourself can reveal any mistakes, opportunities for better wording or extra information that might distract from your main points. Ask a friend to help you practice out loud and give feedback to start polishing your speech.

(written by: Whitney)

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