Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How to Sell Yourself in 60 Seconds or Less

By Ethan Vernon, senior international affairs and Chinese major

Being able to sell yourself in 60 seconds or less is a valuable tool for any professional. It’s also a valuable skill for students to develop when attending events like job fairs or networking events. The act of marketing yourself to potential employers in a short period of time can also be called an elevator speech. It is important because it helps you tell other professionals who you are, what you do, how you can help them and how they can help you. You never know when you will encounter your dream investor or potential business partner, so having a short speech on hand will help you feel prepared to network successfully.

Your pitch should be detailed, yet concise. Rather than rambling, stick to the most pertinent information regarding your company or idea. Depending on the environment, your audience may be accustomed to hearing multiple pitches in a day, so try and mention ideas or achievements that set your organization apart from others.

Keep your pitch interesting! As mentioned above, you may be competing with hundreds of other people for the attention of your audience, or they may just have other things on their mind. Tailor your elevator speech to those with short attention spans. Ask and answer, “Why would someone want to listen to me?”

Elevator speeches are not exactly one size fits all. You should tailor your elevator speech to fit the different audiences you may face. Investors may be interested in your moneymaking ability, whereas donors may be more interested in qualitative aspects and moral obligations of your company.

You don't need to have a company or an idea in order to prepare an elevator speech. The best thing to pitch, in fact, is yourself! For example, if you are looking to pitch yourself to an employer in hopes of landing an interview, then tailor your speech to the qualities that you possess that compliment their company. The whole idea is to show your audience what makes you stand out and how you can help them.

Lastly, ensure a calm and cool delivery by grounding your elevator speech in real life data. Your audience will assume you’re the expert, so make sure to deliver. Before even outlining your speech, do your research on what you have, what you need, and why you need it. Once you have a general idea of what you will say, try writing it down and rehearsing it in the mirror. Your elevator speech should be natural, not forced.