A: The number of times that they occur naturally in our lifetime.
When is the last time you talked to someone on an elevator? Really talked to someone… instead of looking at your phone, wondering when you were going to lose service, or wondering why elevators always seem to go slower when your floor is close to the top. Come to think of it, when was the last time you were in an elevator, in this era of “take the stairs, it’s good for you” and escalators that fit one person per tread?
Even if you do find yourself in an elevator, and are looking around at your fellow elevator occupants with wide-eyed, opportunity-seeking interest… What are the chances that you’ll be riding an elevator at the exact same time as the person you desperately need to talk to so that you can get your next job? The person who could get you your dream job?
Let’s step off that imaginary, dream of an elevator, shall we.
I’ve been to many job search workshops through the years, and most teach the fundamentals: networking, resume writing, interview prep, and elevator pitches. As a professional job search coach and trainer, I’ve been to multiple trainings.
In over 25 years of professionally networking, I’ve only tried my elevator pitch once. The awkward reaction I received caused my mouth to stop moving about ten seconds in, fading away mid-sentence. I spent the rest of the elevator ride looking at my shoes, waiting for the floor to swallow me whole.
Given my profession, it’s hard to admit that every nugget of wisdom thrown out at a captive audience at a job search training session isn’t pure gold.
However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore the information and the approach behind an elevator pitch. Instead of looking at it as your opportunity to land a job offer in a very small space, see an elevator pitch for what it is: a way to craft an introduction that is professional, while also drawing attention to your end goal (a job!).
How to Develop a Powerful Introduction You Can Use Again and Again: A 3 Step Process
Our strategy is simple:
Create your story one part at a time… get comfortable with part one before moving onto parts 2 and 3. This is how you develop a natural, authentic introduction that will work in real life … not just that magical elevator ride!
Part One: Draft one to two sentences that include your name, and an interesting fact relevant to the circumstances of the moment. For a job interview, it might be a skill, for a networking event, it might be your most recent project, or something that lets you get your line of work into the conversation. If you’re having trouble coming up with one, you can use this worksheet.
Example: Hi, my name is Amy Rossi. Did you see the game last night—the Human Resources fantasy football league will be going crazy this morning.
Part Two: One sentence that builds on the information you revealed in part one, keeping in mind that you need to listen to the person who’s speaking to you.
Example: Yeah, I work on a really dynamic team. Our latest project led to fifteen new Veteran hires, which is a real passion for me; I’ve been working toward ending Veteran unemployment for the past seven years.
Part Three: One to two sentences that give them a sense of where you want to build yourself professionally.
Example: Over the past seven years, the Veteran hiring market has gone through some interesting changes. I’m really interested in growing training and entrepreneurship
resources for Veterans in partnership with other companies—does your company work with Veterans?
Think about it this way, most 30 second commercials only have 15 seconds of actual text. The mind needs time to absorb and process new information. Don’t stress yourself out thinking that you have to distill your whole life and your vision for the future into one convenient, elevator-sized speech. Instead, focus on giving your audience what they need—what they can write down, remember, and call you about on Monday morning.
Story by Amy Rossi