Introducing Yourself: Come Up With A Better Elevator Speech

A new elevator pitch for 2013?

You know you have a lot to offer an employer. Yet when you need to talk about yourself, you're tongue-tied! Maybe it's ironic, but the thing we've been doing all our lives -- introducing ourselves -- can be anxiety-producing during a job search. "Hello, my name is" isn't going to cut it. You need to learn how to reel in your listeners and convince them they need to learn more about you. Imagine you only have a short elevator ride to impress someone. Are you ready to push the "up" button and get started, or are you running for the stairs?

The trick? Don't overdo it. You may have heard about the "two-minute elevator speech," and while pitches of this length do have their place (for example, at formal networking events or interview settings), in most cases, shorter sound bites sell. Put yourself in the other person's shoes -- when you're meeting someone for the first time, are you really going to listen to his entire two-minute introduction? Or, at about 20 or 30 seconds in, will your mind wander to that night's dinner plans? Prioritize key details to help win your listener's attention.

You should include the following topics when you compose your pitch:
  • What is your goal/objective?
  • What do you want to do? (Consider your audience's needs.)
  • What impact do you have?
  • What results do you create?
  • What problem(s) do you solve?
  • How do you create positive results?

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Do your research to help identify what skills, experiences and accomplishments your target employers appreciate.
  • Comb through job descriptions.
  • Review information outlined in your professional association's materials.
  • Keep an eye on what thought leaders in your field are sharing via social media outlets (including blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+).
  • Talk to people about industry trends.

Here is a template to keep in mind when you write your pitch. You can adjust the order once you decide what to include:

I work with [target audience] to [what problem you solve]. This is how [your impact/results].

Before and After Pitches

Consider this "before" pitch:

I have been a project manager and consultant for various companies within the D.C. area [this is a little vague], and I am mainly interested in energy and sustainability, climate change, and environmental readiness. I last worked for Company X doing green I.T. and helping with environmental issues. I'm looking for a job where I can have an impact on green initiatives [no "problem I solve" or impact/results].

How can the speaker better organize this to help the audience understand his value?

Consider this revised pitch:

One sentence: I'm an award-winning expert in green project management, and I have saved my company more than $65,000 per year.

Once you perfect a short version of your pitch, build on it to create various ways to introduce yourself in more formal settings.

Short pitch: As a project manager and senior adviser in the environmental energy industry [target audience], I've had a significant impact on energy and environmental policies and can bridge the gap between the technical community and management interests [problem I solve]. At Company X, I developed and led a green-I.T. project that resulted in a 30 percent reduction in electricity costs-translating to a savings of $65,000 per year [my impact/results].

More:7 Soft Skills You Need To Get Hired In 2013

How to Create Your Pitch

Answer these questions:

About You
  • What skills and accomplishments set you apart from every other person in the room? In your industry?
About Your Industry
  • What skills do you see over and over again in your target job descriptions? (List 5–10.)
  • What problems are speakers at your professional conferences addressing? (List 3–5.)
  • Who are the thought leaders in your field, and what are they saying? (List 3–5 people who create regular content via blogs or other social media tools. Make a point to connect with them and to read your favorites.)

What You Do
  • What is your goal/objective (including your target audience)?
  • What do you want to do? How does it relate to what your audience wants?
  • What problem(s) do you solve?
  • What results do you create?

A well thought out pitch will pave the way for you to meet and get to know people who can open doors to help you land a job. Don't delay -- create and practice your pitch today!

This is an excerpt from 100 Conversations for Career Success: Learn to Network, Cold Call, and Tweet Your Way to Your Dream Job (LearningExpress, LLC, 2012), by Laura M. Labovich and Miriam Salpeter. Dubbed a "must read" for job seekers, experts call the book a job seeker's "ultimate instruction manual" and say it is filled with "usable quotes, scripts and information ... a wonderfully practical resource for the modern business world." The award-winning book is available via Amazon and anywhere books are sold.

How to Do an Elevator Pitch

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