Move Up Give Back: Unforgettable Elevator Pitch

This column first appeared in United Way STL's "Move Up Give Back" online magazine for young professionals.  You can ask your networking questions through their contact page!

Thanks to Shark Tank and Kickstarter, we’re all familiar with the “elevator pitch.” But did you know that this startup tool can be just as helpful in building your network and personal brand?

The goal of any good elevator pitch is to get the next conversation. An effective pitch must give enough information to generate interest while also being concise enough to remember. There are five components to an unforgettable personal pitch, all of which come together to make you stand out.

Here are the five elements that will make you unforgettable:

1. Your intro. Introduce yourself, and highlight a few things the person should know about you. Depending on the circumstance and your goal, this might be your title, your education or a project you’re working on.

2. Your skills. People can only remember two to three things, so mention a few skills that you’ve developed in your current position or hope to use in the future. What are you best at?

3. Your benefit. This is the “So what?” part of your pitch. People understand benefits, especially when something benefits them. Be able to translate the skills you describe in terms of how they make a difference to organizations and people.

4. Your goal. Especially when you are pitching as an individual, people can connect best when they understand where you’re going. Be able to speak to your near-term goals, such as joining a board or learning about a new industry.

5. Your ask. If you’ve gotten this far, don’t miss the opportunity to let people know how they can help you. This isn’t the time to ask for a big introduction, but be able to mention the types of people you’d like to meet, organizations you’d like to get involved with, or things you know you need to learn. If all else fails, asking a question like “What are you reading?” will show your interest and help you learn something new.

Of course, you will never meet someone, shake their hand and say, “Hold it right there while I give you my pitch!” but knowing what you want to say, and being able to say it in a clear and concise manner, makes all the difference in networking. Your goal is to tell your story in a way that is brief enough to illustrate who you are and where you’re going. Being memorable allows those in your network to connect you to the resources you need to be successful.