Imagine you have gone to a conference. There will be lots and lots of professionals, eager to do some networking. No one has the time to actually have a long discussion but everyone is willing to network, somehow.
Or just imagine you are someone looking for a career opportunity. You get on an elevator, and there walks in the CEO of a company you were going to apply at!
There’s a new client you need to network with, preferably for the long-term. There’s a call and you need to make them listen first, you need them to stay. You need to sell your brand. And fast, they have a list of companies waiting for tie-ups!
In situations like these, the thirty second intro comes to the rescue. It’s also known as an elevator pitch.
First things first, what does it mean?
As the name suggests, it is a short, clear, concise introduction of your brand (personal or company, depending on the situation). While you might consider it as a verbal equivalent of your business card, it is supposed to be much more engaging.
It should have the brevity of an elevator ride: you should be able to give a basic but engaging introduction of your brand in the approximate time-span of an elevator ride.
You have to be prepared because you never know when opportunity knocks, right? It’s almost like a script you rehearse and follow. Almost. We will get to it soon.
Now, what should you include in the short introduction?
This will depend according to your purpose and audience. But the very basics include:
- Who you are, that is, not just your name but also your clear job title.
- Chief skills, competencies and chief audience.
- What makes you unique.
- An example that gives substance to your claim to be unique. But make sure you don’t go on telling a story. A general example is fine. We will get to the example soon.
- Perhaps a tagline, a hook to sum it all up.
Even if you are going for an interview, or you want to write a summary for your LinkedIn, you can think of your intro along the lines of these questions, which are essentially variations of the basic outline just laid out above:
- Who you are, and your current job title.
- Where you have worked before. Remember, talk about it very briefly, only the highlights.
- Your chief skills and competencies, your chief audience.
- What makes you unique. Again, with examples of your accomplishments for substance.
- What you are looking for and why.
- Why you are currently in the market.
Remember, it should include all this information but not necessarily in this order. If you can think of a more engaging and fun (but still a coherent order), go for it.
What are some things you should keep in mind?
Now, why is it almost like a script?
Because you will have to prepare this beforehand, and perhaps even rehearse, so you know what to speak, when and to whom. Why ‘almost’? Because you are not going to parrot it. You will have to be mindful about your purpose, and the circumstances you find yourself in. It is not enough to stress the importance of changing the “script” according to who you are talking to. And most importantly, let the other person talk and let you ask questions.
You should be able to elaborate on a detail if you have been asked about it.
Now, an example! Construct something along these lines, which can work for your LinkedIn summary, your networking events, for interviews or maybe even unexpectedly bumping into someone. Remember, look at the context, assess what needs to be said and go for it!
A: I am A. I am currently a lawyer with the firm YXA. Let me know if you ever need my help in anything.
B: There are so many start-ups these days but new ventures take time to gain traction. Some people actually hope they don’t end up doing something illegal unintentionally! I see this a lot. That’s where I see the value of my job: helping people who want to set up their start-ups but aren’t sure in case of how to go about the legal processes and formalities. I am B, a lawyer currently employed at the firm YXA. We deal with various arenas of law and legalities. Just recently I assisted a group of women who loved to bake cakes together set up a little bakery start-up of their own. If you have any of such requirements where the legalities need to be sorted out, I would be happy to assist!
A is just too plain. B gives the introduction, who is served, and also an example. There are enough details: not too many, which might confuse, and not too few, which might make one sound shady. There is a scope to ask more.
Once you know the structure in your mind, you will be able to create your own unique intros!
Remember, it’s almost a script. Keep the basic outline in mind, but don’t parrot it, and give the other person the time to respond. And don’t forget to hand them your visiting card while parting.
Keep it short, simple. No unnecessary jargon please! Show them what makes you different!