Friday, November 12, 2010

Guidelins for an Elevator Pitch

One of my clients recently asked me for guidelines for the development of an elevator pitch. I had gone through them with her orally, but she’s one of those that likes stuff written down, and I hadn’t written it down. Our version of an elevator pitch is one of those things that has evolved over time. Having read about them a great deal, there were portions of many of them that are strong, but none of them fit our goals. I actually wrote about this in March of ’09 and while what we were working on then is similar to where we are now, our concept of this is much more clear.

The key to this version of the pitch is recognition that a "network" is not some foreign thing that people go and "get" when they need help. Your network is actually your current suite of friends and acquaintances. The people you do Yoga with, go to Church with, play music with, etc. Your work network does focus more on, well, .. work. :) That doesn't mean you should start hanging out with creeps because they might get you ahead, just that there is an awareness of work items when building this group of friends (the same as there was a bias of same age children when our kids were young).

We mostly see networking as a “pay it forward” process. In other words, we interact with our network by focusing on how we can help others. As that happens, people normally want to help us as well, so the pitch should be sufficiently clear to provide direction, but should never de-rail the conversation or work being done.

Given that our fist goal is to help others, it is reasonable to assume than when we state our pitch we are talking with people who are predisposed to helping us and who have enough experience with us so they know we are in fact reasonably competent and conscientious. When we talk with these folks, they want to help, mostly they don't know how. So our pitch is aimed at giving them direction. We aren't trying to prove something, nor are we explaining, nor are we introducing ourselves, we are just giving them some direction. We are letting them know how they can help. We also don't want to get stuck talking about things that aren't especially relevant to whatever activity is going on, be it church or whatever.

With that as background, an elevator pitch should be:
  • short (15 to 30 seconds)
  • direct
  • clear
  • jargon free
  • include elements of you that separate you from the competition.
  • flexible
My pitch goes something like this, “My name is Steve Paul, I’m a career coach: Founder and Director of Notes from the Job Search. I have had the honor of helping people identify the job of their dreams and then get it. Even in a down market.”

In real life, I almost never quote it completely, but I will use pretty much every element which are: 
  1. Name. This is the most frequently dropped portion. I don’t introduce myself to people who already know me. 
  2. Professional Role. This is the most likely part to be stated, it states how I work and gives people an idea of how I can help them and/or their friends 
  3. Introduces Notes from the Job Search. This is an extension of my role and increases the number of ways I can help. It’s very likely to be included.
  4. What makes me (and NFJS) special. This part is included when I think there is an audience for it, which is probably just half of the time.
So that’s it.




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