by Kristin Battista-Frazee, MSW
From that first “hello” - not the song by Adele, but when you meet someone at a social work conference - it’s the opening that can take your career or services you provide to a new level. What you say in these moments can make a difference in nabbing key opportunities. Understanding the parts and anatomy of this “elevator pitch” will make it easier to develop a unique introduction tailored to your goals.
The way you deliver your pitch is also important to establish rapport and trust. This is similar to when you work with new clients and your first interaction sets the tone for building a successful working relationship. For social workers, our work is so diverse and, whether you are networking with people inside or outside the profession, you need to succinctly explain what you do. A great elevator pitch can create those real connections for future work and better explain the social work profession.
To develop your elevator pitch, here are the essential things you will share.
- Who you are
- What you do
- Your expertise
- Any successes (if you have time)
Before you reach the point of developing your pitch, which is a reflection of your brand, you should have already thought about your personal values, strengths, and challenges. This pitch clarifies the value you bring to others and how you are positioning yourself in relation to other professionals. Mentioning a success in this interaction, if you have time, demonstrates evidence of your effectiveness.
Your pitch isn’t a rattling off of your whole resume or life’s story, but invites people to ask more questions and start an authentic conversation. Avoid jargon, and when you nail that compelling introduction, you’ll have plenty of time to share more details about yourself.
Hello, I’m Kristin and I work at ABC agency. I’m president of XYZ group. (who you are) I provide counseling and case management services to GLBT youth with HIV. (what you do) My focus is to set up healthcare services for teens with HIV and also provide therapy and support to those with a new diagnosis. (expertise) I recently worked on a task force with other top GLBT coalitions which passed legislation for more healthcare funding for people living with HIV. (success)
Prepare a few pitches for different audiences. In the above pitch example, both clinical and advocacy skills are mentioned. Highlighting one skill over another may better suit the goals or needs of people you may speak to at an event or conference.
Practice aloud in the mirror or to a friend or family member. Do you seem stiff, or does your introduction flow well? Does it adequately convey who you are, what you do, and your expertise? Answer these questions before testing this with a live audience. You want to sound natural and engaging and not like you are selling vacuums. Be yourself, and keep your whole spiel under 30 seconds (maybe less).
Speak with confidence, look people in the eye, be concise, and don’t ramble. If the pitch is great, you’ll be chatting up your new friend and answering lots of questions about your experience. Again, the whole goal is to start a conversation.
Also, if the connection is solid, create a next step. Connect on LinkedIn, exchange business cards, or set up a time to have coffee to continue your conversation. After you have mastered your pitch, sprinkle what you have crafted on your LinkedIn profile, website, and resume. Keep in mind, this will always evolve as your experience and network grow.
- PWC, Personal Branding Workbook
- PWC, Elevator Pitch Videos
- Your Personal Brand, Elevator Pitch Examples
- What Is An Elevator Pitch?, Business News Daily, Katherine Arline, January 26, 2015
- 7 Steps to Deliver Your Best Elevator Pitch, US News and World Report, Evan Taylor, January 17, 2014
- 6 Tips for Perfecting Your Elevator Pitch, Entrepreneur, Dwight Peter, August 27, 2013
- 12 Tips for a Winning Elevator Pitch, Business Daily News, Nicole Fallon, April 30, 2015
- How to Build Rapport: A Powerful Technique, Psychology Today, Aldo Civico Ph.D., April 29, 2015
Please let us know if you would like to share your brand and jump in on our hashtag #YourSWBrand to ask personal branding questions and share what you’re doing. We would love to hear from you.