Networking: Communicating Your Career Story Effectively

Whether you’re interviewing for a job, networking, at a cocktail party, or even crafting your Linkedin profile, a powerful elevator pitch can be a great opportunity to:

  • Create a positive first impression
  • Tell where you are coming from and where are you going
  • Convey your sense of purpose, or your mission
  • And it’s an opening to deeper conversation and connection

You can google elevator pitch and get tons of information about how to structure your pitch and some great tactical tools to create it.  What I’d like to do a little differently today is share some things from a coaching perspective that might be helpful for you to consider as you craft your elevator pitch.

There are 3 things that can block us from creating or using elevator pitch effectively:  Intention, Purpose and Mindset.

1)    Let’s start with Intention – When you think about giving your pitch, what comes up for you?  If there’s a negative connotation that accompanies that term for you, what’s that all about?  Maybe it’s the intention that you need to get clear on first.

Here are some examples of what elevator pitch is not:

  • Complaining about your current job
  • It’s not asking for a job – not a means to an end
  • It’s not a novel about you – it’s brief and to the point

Let’s reframe elevator pitch from an intention that is typically much more engaging.  What if the purpose of your pitch is simply to make a meaningful connection?  There’s a completely different energy behind building meaningful connection than there is in these more self-serving intentions that I just described.  Think about how it feels on the receiving end.  What would work better on you if someone was pitching their career story to you?  Keep that in mind when you craft your elevator pitch and in how you deliver it.

2)    The next thing to consider is your Connection with Purpose – What’s the role of purpose in elevator pitch?  It’s actually bigger than the pitch itself, and really the most important place to start.  Here’s why:

  • Doing the work on elevator pitch forces us to think about who we are and why we do what we do; when we’re clearer about this, it’s easier to make decisions about our next career move
  • Having a clear sense of purpose makes it possible to be tremendously confident and deeply engaged in whatever you do and whoever you are with
  • When you’re clear about your purpose and your elevator pitch reflects that connection with purpose, your networking efforts will be much more effective and authentic

3)    The third thing to think about is Mindset – What’s your mindset and how does it affect the energy you bring when you give your pitch?  What I can tell you is that mindset matters.  Let me give you two very different examples.  You could tell yourself “this is a work in progress and by giving my pitch I’ll keep getting better and better” or maybe you tell yourself “My pitch isn’t good enough and I’m not prepared enough to make a good impression”. Think about which mindset actually gives you the opportunity to grow, learn and improve.  Remember that great is the enemy of good!  Sometimes people are so self-critical that they avoid getting started on their pitch or don’t go to networking events because they feel their career story isn’t good enough.  Don’t let that be you!

One last piece of advice.  When you give your elevator pitch, end with an open-ended question to engage the listener!  Often, people reach the end of their elevator pitch and there is an uncomfortable pause and they aren’t sure how to keep the conversation going.  Ask open-ended questions so you can get to know the other person a little better as they get to know you.  Express interest and curiosity.  Focus on being interested vs. being interesting – listen carefully and give rather than receive.  It will come back to you in the long run.

Don't worry, creating an effective elevator pitch is not easy and usually requires some time, practice and feedback to get it right. With the right intention, purpose and mindset, you’re on your way to creating a meaningful, memorable elevator pitch.  This is a great topic to be coached through!

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