- What if you went into an office building, got into the elevator, and looked over and saw the hiring manager of a company you would love to work with. And what if she turned to you and said, "What do you do?" How would you tell her what you do, who you are, and why she should be interested in talking to you further, in a quick, short sound-bite? We call that an elevator pitch, and it's a concise, clear way of describing your value proposition. Your elevator pitch is not your resume, or your job description, your military jargon, or actually, even your life story.
It's supposed to be short and sweet, and get somebody interested enough that they want to keep talking when the elevator doors open. So let's talk about some of the best ways to develop an elevator pitch. I like to say it's a formula of three steps. First of all, it's really important when you introduce yourself to someone that you tell what you do. And not in a military jargon sense, but in a clear way that tells them, are you a veteran in transition looking for a career in information technology? Are you someone who just retired from the military and is looking to become a public speaker? Telling somebody what you do establishes a baseline.
It's stops their brain from trying to figure out what skills and talents and traits you might have. So it's really important to "civilianize" the "what you do" piece. Then, follow up by telling them what you do that's unique. So, if you're an Army medic who's making a transition into public speaking, what is it about being a medic in the Army that made you really good as a public speaker? What did you learn? What is it about public speaking that interests you? And, how do you have, maybe, a different spin on it? And I'll admit that a lot of the veterans I have worked with have pushed back at this point, and said, "there's nothing about me that's unique," Well, I will challenge you on that one.
Because there is something, and there has to be. And your job is to figure it out, because the person you're talking to isn't going to figure it out, you have to make it clear. And then, the third step of an elevator pitch, is tell them a quick story. Give them an example. So, you might say, "I was a medic in the Army, "and I just separated after fifteen years, "and I'm looking to be a public speaker. "For instance, one of the things I love to talk about is..." and give them an example. Tell them a story or an anecdote about what you like to do.
This sticks in people's mind. They remember the stories, and it makes it really easy, if I meet someone later, and I want to introduce you, I can introduce you using your story. Which brings us to the concept of networking. That's typically where we use our elevator pitch. Now, I'd like to ask you to think about where are some of the places that you might network? Well, you might be thinking about business meetings, or chamber of commerce events, or industry gatherings, maybe even job fairs. I would venture to say anywhere two or more people are gathered, that you are not maritally or biologically related to are opportunities for networking.
You can network with people in school, at Starbucks getting a coffee. Wherever you are around people, they might turn to you and say, "Well, what do you do? "Tell me about yourself." And you have an opportunity to build a relationship. Networking is simply about win-win relationships. I teach Intentional Networking to differentiate it from people that you're just going to meet by happenstance, and focus on people that you want to meet strategically. When you think about your target audience, when you think about the desired brand that you're building towards, who are the people that are going to knit the pieces together to get you there? Who do you need to know to get the introductions to get to the places that you want? People serve you in a networking capacity by making those connections, but also by giving you information.
Sometimes you meet people through the course of your career who just know stuff. And that knowledge adds to your value proposition, and they're important to keep as part of your network. And finally, you're also going to meet people in your network who are just really supportive. They're important to keep in touch with, too. Nurturing a networking relationship means that you're not just focused on yourself, but you're focused on them, too. How can you help them? How can you be a resource, and provide value to them? Maybe it's not even in your line of industry, but it's something that they need at that moment, that you can make an introduction, or send them an article that's valuable.
Or, somehow connect them to something that's important to them. That's called "being other focused." When you're building a network and you're crafting an elevator pitch, all of it has to be wrapped around your brand, your value proposition. That drives your networking strategy, and it ultimately comes to life in your elevator pitch.