Summer is fast approaching. It means finally enjoying that warm weather, the relaxing vacations, and the outdoor festivals. For our recent college grads, summer also means moving back home and diving into the job search, or relocating to a new city to start your first career. You have new people to meet and old friends to reconnect with.
We all know the inevitable scenario I’m painting here. You walk into a party, see an old high school friend that went to a school in another state, and you start exchanging hello’s. After talking for about 10 seconds, the conversation always turns to, “Anyway, what’s up with you?!” Rather than mumbling through some meaningless line with empty words, or worse, hearing yourself spit out the dreaded phrase: “Uhh, well I…hmm…well, it’s hard to explain, but it’s kinda like…”, you will need a solid answer that leaves an impression. Consider this your fair warning.
This, my friends, is why we need an Elevator Speech– a speech that will describe your worth quickly. In a world of networking, you never know when you will meet someone important who wants to hear about your business objective, or your personal brand. A clear, concise, short description of your next move is your best weapon.
(Note: Replace the phrase “next move” with “business idea”, “job strengths”, or “personal value”, and you’ve got one all-compassing reason to create an elevator speech, specific to you!)
So, come-on, what’s your pitch?
A personal Elevator Speech (ES) should consist of a framework that looks and sounds something like this:
- What you do: an explanation of your idea, proposal, or strengths.
- How you do it: a one sentence statement for your process.
- Your unique value: the specific impact of your proposal, the niche your business addresses, or a key selling point of your product and/or self.
Put these elements together into a few sentences and you can use this prepared speech anywhere! Take an hour before the summer parties hit to pinpoint your key strengths and career objectives. Then, when the opportunity presents itself, allow 30 seconds to let your friends know exactly what you’ve been up do and where you plan on going.
Here’s a list of seven places you can, and should expect to, network by simply using your elevator speech in a natural way.
1. The summer barbeque:
There’s a high chance that you will be invited to a barbeque to “catch up” with friends this summer. To all my readers saying, “Yeah…and what’s the problem?”
I say: “Hey, I know what you’re saying. Beer, music, friends, AND good food. I’m all in. But think about what this really means.”
You and your friend are bonding over crazy college stories and they say, “I heard you just graduated from Appalachian State…what’s next for you?” **ENGAGE PREPARED ELEVATOR SPEECH NOW!**
2. The actual elevator
The “Elevator Speech” didn’t get it’s name for nothing. Important people who work in big buildings ride elevators. Senior level employees travel to conferences, stay in hotels, and ride elevators. Think of it like this: if you had to get your point across in the time it takes to ride that elevator from the ground floor to the 12th, what would you say? Fill that awkward silence with a meaningful conversation. Engage the person with a question, then tell them about yourself and your goals.
3. Roomie reunions
If your anything like me, I try to relive my college glory days as much as possible. Every year my friends and I get together and pretend we can still hang like 21 year olds. Of course, everyone always wants to know what you’ve been doing and where you’re going. So tell them. While it is possible that this old friend is also a passenger in your same boat- the boat I like to call The Unemployed and Looking charter, it’s also possible that he may know someone who could be of value to you. Or, he could work for a company with an open position. You never know.
4. Your parents’ dinner parties
You know that awkward moment when you didn’t escape to your room in time, and now you’ve got to socialize with your parents’ friends? Me too. Well, it may not be a bad thing. Your parents’ friends have been adulting for quite some time, and they know people. It is probable that they will be able to point you in a better direction once they know your career objectives, background, and strengths.
5. Your LinkedIn profile
Your unique value is something you want to advertise everywhere you can. LinkedIn offers the space to do just that in their “Header” and “Summary” areas. When you apply for a job, one of the first things a recruiter will do is search for you online. Leave a lasting impression with a written version of your elevator speech that clearly shows them your potential value.
Helpful tip: if your elevator speech cannot fit into the allotted “Summary” space, then it’s too long.
6. The gym/exercise groups:
Running group members are chatty a bunch. Some serious bonding happens during stretching sessions at Pure Barre. Take this time to build non-working relationships with your classmates and build your network. Using the elevator speech isn’t quite as daunting when you’re both struggling to remember all those Zumba moves.
7. Social media sites
Connect and engage with people on social media forums like Twitter and LinkedIn. As you connect with people, they’ll want to know more. So, fitting an explanation into 140 characters or less is super useful online. Also, getting involved in daily “twitter chats”, online forums in your professional circle, and relevant LinkedIn groups will help expand your reach, and learn pertinent trends sweeping your industry, currently.
Any event can become an opportunity to network, and an opportunity you don’t want to miss. Don’t throw it away by downplaying your ambitions or changing the subject. Use your elevator speech everywhere you can, and you’ll find that your network of meaningful connections grows to be a whole lot bigger than you’ve ever imagined by the time September rolls around!