Dear Sam: Whenever I hear or read about networking, the term “elevator speech” is mentioned. Is this just an “about me” speech? I’ve never really taken time to craft a specific message. Should I be taking it more seriously? – Chris
Dear Chris: You should absolutely be strategic about crafting a compelling elevator speech. It is part of your personal brand! When you meet someone at a networking event (especially if that person could potentially lead you to a job opportunity), you have a very short amount of time to capture their interest and to “sell” yourself. An elevator speech is brief…typically about 30 seconds (the time it takes to ride an elevator from floor to floor). If you don’t have a clear, brief message about who you are, what you’re looking for, and how you can benefit that particular company/organization/industry, you could be missing out on a huge opportunity.
In addition to using your elevator speech at networking events, you could also use this message when you have a job interview. One of the hardest questions to answer is the “tell me about yourself” question. If you already have a well-crafted message created, you will not make the mistake of giving irrelevant life stories or an unprofessional answer. An elevator speech is great in these situations because it will give your response better structure and direction that will keep the interviewer more engaged. If you can tell the interviewer in 30 seconds what got you interested in the industry, what you have done to be where you are, and what you want for your future, you have successfully showed them that you are prepared and truly interested in the position at hand.
Here is an example of a strategically crafted elevator speech from a marketing and digital strategist who presents himself as a digital marketer:
Hi, my name is Alejandro— I am a digital marketing strategist and digital freelancer. I started developing my passion for marketing at a young age. While I was growing up, my dad had a small ad agency in Mexico, so it is not surprising that I followed in his footsteps and joined the industry. As I started my career in the digital age, it was simple for me to see how online resources were taking over the industry which helped me decide to focus my career on SEO, SEM, and SMM and get google certified for AdWords and Analytics.
As a freelancer, I work with various small businesses to assist them in developing strong digital strategies and implementation. I now want to leverage this experience and move into a more challenging role where I can grow my career and strengthen my current experience.
Once you’ve developed your speech, be sure to practice it! This is the best way to get comfortable enough to make your speech sounds natural. You can try saying your speech to a family member or friend, recording your speech and playing it back to yourself, or repeating it in front of a mirror. Practicing helps you know if you are staying within the 30 to 60 second time limit and conveying a persuasive message.