I have been to quite a few business networking events, and I guarantee that if you go, you will hear the phrase,
“Tell me about yourself.”
Many people are able to answer this question with no problem, while others seem to struggle. If you find yourself experiencing the latter, one way to combat this issue is by memorizing an elevator speech.
In case you are not familiar with this term, an elevator speech is a short spiel that enables you to convey to others your occupation and what you represent (i.e. personality) in the same length of time it takes for you to reach the highest floor in an elevator (approximately 30 to 60 seconds).
Think of it as a way to “break the ice” when you meet someone new, not as a job interview. In order to find out if your speech is pushing the right buttons, keep the following in mind:
Know before you go
First impressions are extremely important. People form their judgments about a person within the first thirty seconds of meeting them. Therefore, when someone requests that you tell them about yourself, please do not waste these precious seconds. I am not trying to be funny or mean when I say this, but please figure out what it is that you do and what you represent before you are asked (especially if you are going to a networking event).
When some people are asked to talk about themselves, they act like it is a trick question and are literally stumped in trying to determine how to craft a response. Remember, only you have the answer. Using “fillers” such as ‘um’ or ‘ah’ will not help in your quest to project that you are a confident individual.
Would you want to listen to yourself?
When you are rehearsing your elevator speech, keep in mind how you would feel if you were subjected to listening to your speech. Would you be satisfied or bored? If you are bored and you wrote the speech, imagine how the listener will feel. I realize not everyone has a “cool” job. However, this is still no excuse for having a boring elevator speech. How do you expect to impress a recruiter or land a new client without capturing their attention?
The key to getting where you want to be is to demonstrate that regardless of what your occupation is, you are an awesome person to know, you take ownership of your position, and you have pride in the work you perform. Do yourself a favor and craft an elevator speech worth listening to by incorporating the following:
1. Your occupation: Yes, this seems obvious, but it does not hurt to be reminded. In addition,make sure that you add the company name as well. The person listening to you might know one of your colleagues. Therefore, in the event that you are nervous, knowing a common person that the listener knows might make you feel more at ease.
2. Why are you unique? For example, instead of simply saying, “I am a Marketing Consultant,” and bringing the conversation to a screeching halt, why not say this answer instead: “I am a Marketing Consultant that loves a challenge and truly enjoys assisting my clients.”
3. Examples, please. The degree of how well you craft your answer to the above question, “Why you are unique?” will determine how interested people will be in learning more about you. You will know you accomplished this feat when, after you give this response, the next question you are asked is, “How do you …[insert your exceptionally-crafted answer—i.e. assist your clients]?” This question will enable you to share your skills and talents without being viewed as pushy. Make the most of your time in the spotlight by giving 3 quick examples to support why you are [insert your exceptionally-crafted answer].
4. Facial expressions speak just as loud as words: When you are speaking, make sure you are paying attention to how others are reacting to your speech. If you see that someone is confused, immediately stop and ask them if they need clarification. Oftentimes, if people are confused, they will let you keep talking because they are afraid that they will come across as ignorant (even though this could not be further from the truth).
It is your responsibility to put their mind at ease by being direct and asking them if they need clarification. I often receive puzzled looks when I mention that I offer virtual creative services. When I receive these confused looks, the next words out of my mouth are, “Are you familiar with the concept of virtual assistance?” When I offer to clarify a term or phrase that is unfamiliar to the other person, I can see a sigh of relief on their face, and then I’m told, “No, if you do not mind, can you explain it to me?”
It does neither person any good to allow you to continue talking when you are not on the same page. The other person will undoubtedly harbor unnecessary feelings of insecurity because they did not understand you. When you fail to pick up on nonverbal cues when your listener is confused, your listener will assume that you are “smarter” than they are, and you will miss out on the chance to connect.
Remember, the whole purpose of an elevator speech is to satisfy your listener’s curiosity regarding why you are a phenomenal person that they should become better acquainted with so they can add you to their network.
In order to make this happen, you have to make sure that your speech is pushing the right buttons, so you can get off on the same floor together.