Elevator pitching tips
This is an addendum to my earlier post on elevator pitching tips, Riding in Elevators with Employers. Just as with my piece, Trade-off, Valuing your Core Values, this post has been separated out to spare you reading a 2,000 word post about elevator pitching. If you haven’t read the original post, though, do it now, otherwise this post isn’t going to make sense.
As I said in my last blog post, the fundamentals of networking and pitching aren’t very hard:
- Know yourself
- Know what you want
- Know your audience
- Be interesting and relevant
Like any activity, starting isn’t hard, but mastering is. In graduate employability land and the wider professional job market, there are plenty of job seekers who pitch and network incorrectly, usually by either ignoring one of the four core elements I outlined or being really nervous. Luckily, there are a couple of cheats you can use to get better.
Be a good listener and ask good questions
When I started my first job, my dad gave me a great piece of advice: shut up.
As harsh as that sounds, what he meant by it was the less talking I do, the more opportunities were available for people more senior than me to talk. This meant for every word I didn’t say, someone with more experience or insight than me had an extra word to impart his or her knowledge on me. My dad was telling me to be a good listener.
This can be applied to elevator pitching or networking in general, however, you should be aware that you must talk during those processes and you can’t be completely silent. Generally, you’ll be initiating those interactions, too, so it will look a bit weird if you walk up to someone and just stand there silently.
Once you’ve finished your pitch, you should be following onto a conversation with the person. They will likely have some questions for you to answer, but often, they also have their own advice. Listen to that advice and where possible, ask follow-up questions. This shows you’ve been listening, you’ve understood what you’re being told and you’re interested.
As well as generally being a positive trait (people enjoy talking about themselves), it gives you an opportunity to learn more about other people, industries and work you’re interested in and companies that you’re thinking of working for. Having a historical grounding within a chosen industry is also great and it builds upon your next conversation.
Which brings me to…
Just keep meeting new people and pitching or networking again and again. Prepare yourself to learn rather than succeed and overtime, you’ll start to become a highly sought after candidate.
The process of “elevator pitching” isn’t particularly hard to understand or to start doing, but it is very difficult to master. That’s why The University of Queensland established the Three Minute Thesis, a competition for PhD students to present their thesis in three minutes. Theses are usually about 80,000 words, by the way. In comparison, this article is 614 words and should take you about three minutes to read aloud to an audience.
Universities in the US also have their own elevator pitch competitions, such as the University of Dayton. Take a look at the video. One minute to provide quick, interesting background information on a complex product.
You are a complex person with many useful attributes, values and skills. To you, they are all valuable, and they are, but some are more valuable than others depending on your audience. It’s time to start thinking about your value proposition. Sign up to Successful Graduate to start building up your networking skills now.
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