Today, I’d like to start by asking you a question. It’s a basic yes or no question. Are you ready for it?
Can you summarize your career, accomplishments, and goals in a single sentence?
If you answered yes, congratulations! You’ve developed a concise elevator pitch. However, if you’re like the vast majority of professionals, you probably haven’t given this much thought unless you’re actively searching for a new job.
Here’s a secret: just like utilizing LinkedIn outside of the job search process, you should likewise always have a prepared elevator pitch. You never know when you’ll encounter your next career-changing client or meet your next supervisor.
To help you get started, let’s look at the six steps to creating the perfect elevator pitch.
Define your brand
It starts with defining your brand. To do this correctly, you’ll need a certain amount of self-awareness. What are you known for within your industry or among your peers? Is it a particular skill set, such as having a knack for developing strategy? Or are you the jack of all trades, able to slip into new roles with ease?
Your personal brand isn’t just “personal”, though it can include those components. Rather, when I say personal I’m referring to you as a person. You may be a business owner and the business has its own brand, but there will always be differences. Your personal brand identifies what sets you apart from others in your line of work.
Summarize relevant aspects of your background
At the end of this exercise, you won’t spend your elevator pitch recapping everything you’ve done or where you’ve worked. Still, it’s worth documenting each job, no matter how insignificant it may seem as it can demonstrate several unique qualities you may not have realized about yourself.
For example, AOC doesn’t hide behind the fact that she used to be a bartender. In fact, she took the job to support her and her mother during moments of economic uncertainty. It demonstrates her character and willingness to do what was necessary at the time. Furthermore, she graduated Cum Laude from Boston University — no small feat to say the least.
Are there similar moments like this in your background that you can write down? You won’t mention them in your elevator pitch, but they’ll help you later develop a few key adjectives or keywords that paint a clear picture of who you are and what you offer.
Identify major accomplishments
Moving beyond the basic “where you’ve worked”, now let’s figure out what you’ve accomplished. Using the AOC example, she helped prevent foreclosure on her family’s home. Today, she fights for economic inequality as, not only does she understand the need out there, she’s personally lived it.
What about your accomplishments? Did you close an early deal that set the stage for your later career success? Did you save your firm six figures in unnecessary expenses? Or, did you build connections that later turned into lucrative business partnerships? I’m just throwing ideas out there, hoping that you realize the mundane to you may in fact be huge opportunities to highlight your value to others.
Unpack your strengths
A key component to personal development is to know, intrinsically, what you’re good at. We call those strengths, and there’s no lack of methods to discover those available online and with a certified coach such as myself. It’s not as important how you discover your strengths so much as you simply do it.
Are you a fact-gathering, data-driven entrepreneur or are you an empathy-focused, master of interpersonal skills manager? The possibilities are quite literally endless, and unpacking your strengths is a vital aspect of self-awareness.
Clarify your why
Self-awareness often boils down to a single word: why. Why do you do what it is you do? If your answer is to make money, I’m going to ask you to re-evaluate that answer.
Making money is why all of us work, so we have to go deeper to understand why we chose the career paths we’re on. Is there something about your industry that draws you in every morning, such as a product you offer or a service you sell? Do you believe in what you’re doing? If so, why is that? Clarify your answer so that you can use it in the next step…
Putting it all together
…which takes everything you’ve worked on in this exercise and summarizes it in a single sentence. For example:
“I am a self-starter with an extensive background in business operations, passionate about helping others achieve their dreams through effective team collaboration.”
It doesn’t have to be an overly long elevator pitch, but memorable, concise, and to the point. As you work through these various steps, whether it involves understanding your why or documenting where and what you’ve done, remember that I’m here to help. I’d love to speak with you so that you can develop the best possible elevator pitch no matter what stage of career you’re in right now.