Imagine you have a chance encounter with someone important from a company you really want to work for. Or you are at a networking event and you meet someone from a company that is known to hire people like you.
Imagine they ask you to tell them about yourself or about what you do for a living, would you be able to answer in an impactful and concise way in 10 to 15 seconds?
You may have heard of the “elevator pitch” – sales people are often taught to prepare what they would say if they were to be in the elevator with a customer and they have the opportunity to deliver their pitch in the time it takes for elevator to get between floors.
Could you do it? It sounds easier that it actually is, try it in the mirror, see how you get on.
It is the worst feeling in the world when you get it wrong, when you open up your sentences with “well...erm……basically, I erm….” you can pretty much guarantee that you have ruined the moment to nail the vital first impression. You’ll walk away shaking your head and stamping your feet like I did the first couple of times.
If you are planning to attend any careers networking events (job fairs, resettlement events, local business networking etc.) then it is especially important that you have something prepared. If you spend a little time preparing and practicing it, write it down, memorise it, fine tune it as you go. Get comfortable with it, make it sound natural and effortless.
If you are attending an event then try and find out who will be attending, what they do, tailor your pitch to your audience.
Here are 10 things to consider:
1. Avoid revealing too much
Keep it brief, slick and impactful, keep it high level, start to give too much detail and you may lose track of what you are trying to say
2. Avoid bragging or being arrogant or cocky
You may think you are the best at what you do, but if you come across as big headed you will almost certainly kill your chances
3. Don’t speed talk or try to cram too much in
Keep it at a normal talking speed, if you are like me and you speed talk when you are nervous then you need to practice more to get it right
4. Practice your body language
Watch how you stand, see how news readers and politicians interview standing up, aim for that - but, standing at ease is not the best way to deliver a pitch.
5. Read their body language
People leak body language signals all the time, see if you can spot how people feel when you talk with them. If they look bored, if they look like they are desperate to get out of the elevator then let them go gracefully, don’t pin them to the spot.
6. Leave them wanting more
If you keep it brief and high level and you have hit on a hot topic then there is a chance you will be asked or more detail.
7. Avoid desperation
Don’t come across desperate, it is almost guaranteed to have a negative effect, keep upbeat and keen, enthusiasm can be infectious
8. Keep it simple
Don’t give a complex account, if you figure you have maybe 15 seconds to deliver your pitch, you want to make it as easy to follow as possible
9. Keep it relevant
Know who you are pitching to, if you meet someone in catering avoid discussing mechanics, and if you share a passion with them, see if there is a chance to discuss
10. No military jargon
In the nicest possible way, you are leaving the military, try to talk less like a soldier and more like someone who is ready to move on.
Now imagine you are one of 25 people that has pitched to someone at a careers fair in the last hour, aim to be the one that stands out.
You want to be able to walk away from the encounter with the person who might be responsible for your next big break knowing that you absoflippinlutely nailed it.
Finally, many years ago at an RFEA event, a recruiter friend of mine told me about a soldier he had met at his stand.
Half way through discussing choices and giving some general tidbits of advice he asked the soldier why he had his best bulled DMS shoes on, the soldier replied “Why wouldn’t I? They’re free!”. What can you say to that?
Elevator Pitch written by Adam Fifoot