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What is an Elevator Pitch and Why do you Need One?


How do you introduce yourself when you’re in a professional environment? Do you start with your name and job and leave it at that? “Hi, I’m Jane, and I’m an accountant.” That’s how most people introduce themselves, and there’s nothing wrong with it. But there’s so much more that an introduction can do for you. For instance, it’s the perfect opportunity to make a business connection and develop your network.


Jane could say, “Hi, I’m Jane, and I’m a financial professional with experience in tax accounting for individuals and small businesses. I have both a CPA and an MBA.” By using this introduction, Jane presents pertinent information that could result in new business or a new job. This is what’s known as an elevator pitch.


What is an Elevator Pitch?


An elevator pitch is a brief, compelling summary of your professional background. It’s your verbal business card, allowing you to introduce yourself, make a couple of brief points, and hopefully make a connection with someone. It’s called an “elevator pitch” because it’s meant to be given in the length of time of an average elevator ride – 30 seconds or so, without rushing.


When to Use an Elevator Pitch


An elevator pitch can be used any time you meet someone in a professional context. A networking event is a perfect place for an elevator pitch, but it can also be used when you meet someone new, such as a client, a manager from a different department, or when you interview for a new position. In fact, your elevator pitch is a very effective way to answer that classic interview question, “Tell me About Yourself”.


How to Write an Elevator Pitch


Having a good elevator pitch is more than just a laundry list of your abilities, it’s a way to show off your communication skills. So, think of it as a set of bullet points that can be used, or not used, depending on the situation rather than as a paragraph to be recited on command.


Ideally, your elevator pitch should cover these points – Who, What, How, and Why. Let’s use photojournalist Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man as an example of how an elevator pitch should be constructed.


“Hello, I’m Peter Parker, and I’m a professional photojournalist. I specialize in taking exclusive pictures at the center of the action. By working with me, I can guarantee I’ll provide your newspaper pictures with a unique perspective that your readers will find amazing.”


Who


“Who” is obvious - you need to introduce yourself. If you have an acquaintance in common with the person you’re talking to, this would be a good time to mention it. For example, Peter could have said, “I work with Myles Morales.”


What


What do you do? In Peter’s case, he’s a professional photojournalist. In your case,

maybe you’re a business analyst with a background in international banking.


Why


Your “why” is your hook, the thing that makes your background interesting. Peter’s hook is his talent for taking exclusive action pictures. Your hook might be your background in setting up enterprise-wide security, your experience in quality assurance, or any number of other things that would capture the interest of someone in your industry.


How


How can you be an asset to the person you’re talking with? In this scenario, Peter presents himself as being able to supply exclusive, amazing pictures but he could just as easily have presented himself as a math genius or a fantastic acrobat. You don’t have to be a superhero to have multiple strengths. Think about your career, what you’ve done and what you want to do, and present yourself in the most relevant light for the person you’re talking to.


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