Why is it sometimes so hard to answer such a simple question like, what do you do?” It can almost feel like that moment when you’re trying to recall your computer password and your brain goes completely blank. Yes, you should know it. And you do know it. But knowing it and recalling it, or in this case relaying, can be two separate things.

An elevator pitch is a snapshot of your career and personal brand summarized in 30 seconds or less. No, it’s not about speed talking. It’s about you being able to relay your skills and brand in a memorable way at the drop of a dime.

Your elevator pitch should express your personal brand in an authentic and memorable way.  So with that in mind, let’s take a look at how you can craft the perfect elevator pitch to elevate your personal brand.

 1. Pin the Pitch on the WIFM

As important as it is to showcase your personal brand, you should always appeal to the receiver’s WIFM—what’s in it for me. The WIFM principle states you should speak in terms of what your prospect needs or hasn’t heard before.

Let’s say you’re at a networking event and meet someone in a prominent position at a company you’ve been stalking, (or  “heavily researching”), you should cater your elevator pitch to that person’s WIFM—not yours.

Don’t get caught up in the opportunity where your pitch comes out like this:

“I’m a detail-oriented recruiter with over five years’ experience, and would love to work for a reputable company like yours that’s very much in line with my career goals and desire to move into management.”

This person has probably heard that spiel so many times and it speaks to what you want and not what the company needs.

If you want to stand out from others who also have this company on their list, you need to fine tune this pitch. A better approach would be:

“I’m an outgoing recruiter with a superior candidate database and 90% placement rate for my clients, which include industry-leading companies.”

Which example sounds more interesting? The second example because it shows results and hits the target—what’s in it for me (the receiver).

Remember to keep in mind the WIFM of the person you are talking to. This way, they can see how you deliver results and stand out from similar professionals.

 2. Practice Your Pitch

What does a good baseball pitch and elevator pitch have in common? They both start the game and require practice.

You won’t get it exactly right each time, but the more prepared you are to deliver your elevator pitch, the better your chances of making a memorable impression. Sometimes it’s easier to get your thoughts out of your head and put it on paper.

Write down your key skills and highlights for your elevator pitch and get comfortable with your personal brand. At that point, you can see where you need to make adjustments.

Also, think of different ways to express your brand attributes, which are adjectives used to describe yourself. Try not to include overused buzzwords like:

  • Excellent communicator
  • Motivated
  • Problem-solver
  • Team player
  • Detail-oriented

Instead, craft a pitch that speaks to those attributes naturally, like this:

“I’m an IT firefighter that specializes in putting out technical fires. I work with business and design teams to create solutions for complex issues.”

Practicing your elevator pitch gives you the chance to play with different ways to present your personal brand and carefully select the right combination that hits the perfect, and memorable, note.

 3. Know What a Good Elevator Pitch Sounds Like

Have you ever not noticed something and then once it’s on your radar you can’t help but to notice it all around you?

Start paying attention to what you say when people ask, “what do you do?” If you’re a life coach and notice that everyone in your industry “helps their clients find themselves and release their inner child,” (after you chuckle to yourself), think of a different approach.

Instead say try something like this: “I help my clients create a plan to get out of their own way and take accountability for living their best life.”

Think out the box and steer away from echoing what everyone in your industry says about their personal brand. A good elevator pitch is original and stands out from the crowd. As an entrepreneur, instead of saying, “My company offers handmade cards for every occasion,” try this: “My company crafts handmade cards with a personalized touch of the right words to capture every occasion.”

As you take in how others present their elevator pitch, think about which strategies are effective and which ones leave the person spending more time getting acquainted with the snack table than actually networking.

Don’t feel as though you need to throw in every career highlight and goal in order to “sell yourself”.  An elevator pitch isn’t your only chance to make a great impression. It’s just the beginning of the process. You can start on the right foot by making the most of your first 30 seconds.

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Marietta Gentles Crawford
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Marietta Gentles Crawford

Writer + Personal Brand Strategist, Founder at MGC Ink
Marietta Gentles Crawford is a writer, personal brand strategist, and author of "From Nine to Thrive: A Guide to Building Your Personal Brand and Elevating Your Career." With over ten years' experience climbing through top corporate and government brands as a writer and trainer, her passion is inspiring professionals to dare mediocrity.
Marietta Gentles Crawford
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