Updated: Sep 12
You're at yet another tiresome networking event, gripping your mocktail for dear life, when the inevitable question is fired at you like a verbal bullet: "So, what do you do?"
The room falls silent as you brace yourself. Your answer to this question is the linchpin to potential career advancements, job offers, and business opportunities. You mutter something about the complexity of your role, then drone on with a dull job description that leaves even you yawning.
Let's face it; we've all been there! But here's the cold, hard truth: this question isn't going away. It'll haunt you at office gatherings, industry workshops, and yes, those anxiety-riddled job interviews where the hiring manager eyes you expectantly, asking, "Tell me about yourself/your last role."
The secret to conquering this query is what we call an elevator pitch. Forget the elevator, though; we're talking about a personal branding sales pitch, condensed into a mere 20-60 seconds. Some experts swear by 20-30 seconds, while others give you a bit more wiggle room. Regardless of the timeframe, one thing is crystal clear: your pitch must be memorable and compelling.
It should kick off with an attention-grabbing nugget about you, sprinkle in concrete stats that showcase a need and the impact you've made, and wrap it all up by linking your professional aspirations with the person in front of you.
"But can you really do all that in under a minute?" you ask. The answer is an emphatic "yes!"
Read on as I dissect each element, revealing how to craft a pitch that's as riveting as it is concise. Get ready to make those networking events, office soirees, and job interviews work for you.
Begin crafting your pitch by asking yourself these questions:
What makes me unique?
How would you describe your job (or previous role if you’re currently looking for work) to a little child curious to understand what you do?
How would you make it sound fun, exciting, and interesting?
Think of creative ways that describe what you do, in a way that positions the pain-point as a villain, and you as the superhero.
At the same time, you need to demonstrate passion and that you are advocating a cause very dear to your heart.
For example, I’m a career coach.
But when I describe myself to others in a conversation, I’ll say something like, “I’m a corporate career coach and trainer, been coaching and mentoring for 8 years. I’ve always been enamored with helping people discover and achieve their potential and develop in their careers. So I started out as a youth mentor and it evolved ever since into my own career coaching business which I launched in 2019.”
See how I shared my passion for what I do, and also portrayed myself with value?
I told the listener that I’ve been in the game for 8 years and gave them a peek into how I got started, making it personal.
Take action: Craft your opening sentence(s) of your elevator pitch right now. Then, move on to the next part and ask yourself:
What impact have I made in the past to a problem, that can serve as proof of the value I am offering now to my listener’s problem?
We're talking about an ELEVATOR pitch here, not a never-ending monologue of your academic and professional conquests. So, let's keep it real and concise. Pick out one or two of your shiniest, most brag-worthy accomplishments—preferably something as tangible as a brick and quantifiable as your aunt's brownie recipe—and drop those into the conversation. We're aiming for "impress," not "induce a nap."
For example: “I’ve personally coached, and managed teams of coaches to help more than 10,000 clients in 7 countries over the last 3 years, beginning in the heart of the pandemic when everyone was being laid off, to find their passion, land their dream jobs, and live with purpose.”
Take action: List out your quantifiable achievements to date, and pick one or two which will be relevant to your audience for this pitch.
Now move on to question 3:
What is my professional goal?
Think of this as your mission statement. What drives, energizes, and motivates you every day? What fuels you to get out of bed each morning?
This is one for you to answer for yourself. For me, my personal branding mission statement has been, and will always be, “to help people fulfil their purpose and unlock their potential.”
So if I were talking to a potential coaching client, I would say “What inspires and excites me about what I do is being able to help managers like you, unlock your career potential and develop your skills.”
Now for the exciting part…
Finalize your elevator pitch with a question.
If you end at step 3, your pitch is good, but not good ENOUGH. To really make it pop and cement it further, leading naturally to an exploratory conversation, you could ask something like (using my example), “What are your career goals?”
Or (for a business partnership opportunity):
“I feel there’s a synergy between what I do and the work you do at your organization. I wonder if there’s any way our roles could complement each other.”
Or if trying to source a new corporate client:
“What challenges have you been facing so far in this area?”
In full, this is how my typical elevator pitch is structured (I don’t recite it word for word, as I want it to sound as natural as possible. But I want these to act as bullet points to jog my memory on what to say next. Also I tailor my pitch, depending on my audience):
“I’m a corporate career coach and trainer; I’ve been coaching and mentoring for 8 years. I’ve always been enamored with helping people discover and achieve their potential and develop in their careers. So I started out as a youth mentor and it evolved ever since into my own career coaching business which I launched in 2019."
“I’ve personally coached, and managed teams of coaches to help more than 10,000 clients in 7 countries over the last 3 years, beginning in the heart of the pandemic when everyone was being laid off, to find their passion, land their dream jobs, and live with purpose."
“What inspires and excites me about what I do is being able to help managers like you, unlock your career potential and develop your skills."
“Tell me about yourself: What are your career goals?”
In conclusion, mastering the art of the elevator pitch is not just a skill; it's a game-changer for your professional journey. We've all experienced those awkward moments when asked, "What do you do?" But with the right personal branding sales pitch, you can turn these daunting encounters into dynamic opportunities for connection and growth.
Crafting your pitch begins with self-reflection, identifying what makes you unique and passionately conveying your story. Showcasing your impact with quantifiable achievements adds credibility and value to your pitch. And finally, anchoring your pitch with a question creates a natural segue into meaningful conversations.
So, seize the chance to transform your networking events, office gatherings, and job interviews into platforms for success. Make your interactions count. It's time to put these techniques into action and unlock your full potential.
Ready to take your personal branding to the next level? Book a session with me for 1:1 Personal Branding Coaching coaching, and let's craft a pitch that opens doors and accelerates your career. Don't miss this opportunity to invest in yourself and your future. Contact me today to get started!