Elevator speeches are probably one of the hardest components of self presentation individuals develop but they are crucial to networking and job search activities. Essentially, they are an oral presentation of who you are and how you contribute or want to contribute to the working world. They are hard to compose because they need to be very short and engage the type of individuals you are seeking out. Furthermore, it makes sense to have more than one because as you move in and out of employment the purpose of your elevator speech varies.
“Short” Means Identifying Specifically What You Want to Contribute
People are not used to approaching the job market by stating specifically what they want to do. Traditional common sense is that you have generic skills that can fit into a number of organizations – then you can qualify for a broad range of positions. That is attractive to people seeking positions but not so much for employers these days. Companies don’t want to train employees and with large numbers of experienced workers in the job market at any one time they believe they can get exactly what they need.
What this means is that job seekers need a good understanding of the current and common challenges in their specific work domain so that they can frame their promised contribution in a way that is likely to attract the interest of a number of possible employers. This can help you develop your elevator speech and better target your job search as well.
Engage Those Who May be Able to Help You
Your elevator speech is not just about you! With it you want to engage people who are interested in the same work domain so they will remember you. To do that you need to think about why it would be important to them. Ask yourself:
- How does this solve key problems in your work domain
- What are the characteristics of the solution that you contribute
- What are you seeking going forward
Clearly your elevator speech will not engage everyone but that is all right. You don’t want to be encumbered interacting at length with people who can not open doors for you.
Elevator Speech Variations
Be sure to end your short statement with some kind of comment that suggests what would be helpful to you. Are you looking for job opportunities? Or, do you have a job and are you looking for experts on a given issue or problem? This is where the idea of multiple elevator speeches comes in. If you currently have an engagement but you are meeting someone new, you may want to introduce yourself, describe your contribution and then say something like: “I am currently particularly interested in ___________ and am seeking out people who can help me understand more about ________ (some facet of that issue/problem).” If you are job hunting, your final statement might be: ”I’m currently seeking a new opportunity to apply my skills to a company that is challenged by _____________.”
The elevator speech has become the “calling card” of networking. Keep it polished and glossy.