Craft Your Elevator Pitch to Open Doors

Not sure what an Elevator Speech / Pitch / Intro is? Whatever you call it, trust me, you need one – even if you always take the stairs! Whether you’re introducing yourself to someone, making conversation, or pitching yourself for a job, read on to find out why you need one, how to write one, and where to use it. 

What is an Elevator Speech?

Simply put, an elevator speech is a conversation starter to introduce yourself, start conversations, gather information, and network toward opportunities. 

It’s called an elevator speech because, like elevator rides, it’s usually pretty short. You should be able to share your intro in the time it takes to ride up or down with the person you’re talking to. With a well-crafted elevator pitch, you can easily and quickly introduce yourself to potential employers, mention your skills and why you’re a qualified applicant, and articulate your strengths professionally. You can use the content of your elevator introduction in face-to-face conversations or meetings and often in cover letters or interviews.    

Why Do I Need an Elevator Intro?

In addition to a nice intro for potential jobs, you’ll have an answer ready when:

  • Your Great Aunt Sally asks what you’re going to do now that you’ve graduated
  • You run into your best friend’s dad who asks, “What’s next for you?” or even just, “How’s it going?”
  • Your happily employed and helpful older sister offers to assist and says, “What do you want to do?” or “What are you good at?”

With some thoughtful preparation, you can introduce yourself, express interest in what another person does, and easily generate conversation. 

How Do I Create an Elevator Speech?

Creating the content of the elevator speech is similar whether you are just beginning your career search without knowing what you want, or if you actually have an occupation in mind. The difference will be how you end your intro – are you simply making conversation, asking for information, or asking for a job or connection? 

If it is more than just making conversation, you pitch yourself and what you bring to the table. You can adapt your speech or conversation to fit your audience and situation.

Create Your Elevator Pitch

With your computer fired up or your pencil ready, list your answers to these questions, and you’ll have what you need to craft your professional and friendly intro.

Your What

  • What are you seeking? (A job? Information? Ideas? Connection to potential employers?)
  • What do you bring to the table? (What are you good at? What do you like doing?)
  • What do you want the person to remember about you? (That you’re thoughtful, polite, a go-getter, articulate, qualified, and worth responding to!)

Next, Your Background

  • My major/minor: __________
  • I’m interested in: [learning what someone else does/political science/working in business, environmental issues/energy conservation]
  • I recently worked on: [such and such a project/enjoyed my internship with XYZ/summer jobs but now am ready for something different]

Finally, The Ask

Are you asking for 

  • Suggestions and ideas?
  • Just chit-chat to pass the time?
  • A meeting? 
  • An information interview?
  • Possible job or job shadowing opportunity?
  • To get on their radar for future opportunities?

Put it All Together 

Here’s an example of an Elevator Speech:

Nice to meet you, I’m _______________. I’m [a fan of your work/interested in your field/work/company, etc.]. I have a degree in ___________ and a background in [relevant skills and experience]. I’m looking for a position where I can use my abilities related to [detailed skills]. 

Do you have any openings in your company? Can I talk to you more about your job? Do you have 5 minutes to share how you got into your field? Is it possible to shadow you? 

Do you have any other advice for me?

Often this short intro turns into more of a “pitch.” That’s why you want to know yourself! Be clear and have specific examples about your strengths, skills, achievements, projects, industry knowledge, who inspires you, where you see yourself short-term

After delivering your elevator pitch, don’t just walk away! Remember to get their contact info and send a brief message thanking them for their time and advice. Add this info, what you’ve learned, and any plans to follow up on your networking notes

Following up shows you’re interested in an ongoing connection, not just checking the box of introducing yourself. It also keeps you top of mind after your initial meeting. Make follow-up part of your elevator intro process.

Keep Refining Your Elevator Pitch

Don’t get stuck on one static elevator pitch version. As you become more comfortable and build your skills, regularly revisit and update your intro. The elevator speech you crafted at first can mature into positioning yourself as an experienced professional years later. Like your resume, refresh your pitch periodically to keep it current.

Don’t underestimate the power of a polished, personalized elevator speech or pitch to connect you to your right-fit career. Take the time to craft and practice yours – it just may be the ride that takes your career to new heights!


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