NET/WORK Philly is one of our favorite tech events of the year. We ran into so many familiar faces and met a ton of new people that we’re super excited to keep in touch with. This year, we had the opportunity to lead a workshop around crafting a unique and memorable elevator pitch. The folks who attended were able to go back downstairs and use what they learned with potential employers. *Win!*
Missed the workshop? Not to worry. Here’s a brief recap of what we covered.
Demystifying the Elevator Pitch: It’s Not as Scary as You Think
Unless you have a refined elevator pitch that you’ve been practicing for years, elevator pitches are pretty much universally scary. Thankfully, they don’t have to be. This is your opportunity to create a memorable first impression by talking about something you’re an expert on: you. With a bit of upfront work, you can unlock new ways to share what makes you unique and make those awkward introductions just a little less awkward.
Start with a brainstorm. All you need is a piece of paper, a pen, and five minutes.
Set a timer for one minute. Think about a manager you worked with closely in the past year or two. What would that manager say about you and your work? Jot down everything that comes to mind. Now, think about a team project you worked on in the past few years and spend the next minute writing down what your team members would say about your contributions. It can be difficult to think objectively about ourselves, so sometimes it’s helpful to step back and look at ourselves through the lens of a manager or colleague.
Now it’s time to turn your focus inward. Think specifically about your work history, exploring the projects you’ve loved as well as the projects you’ve, well… hated. Understanding what kinds of work energize you and what makes you want to crawl under a rock can play an important part in finding and articulating your path. Not only does this understanding allow you to identify your strengths, but it also forces you to think critically about the kinds of work you don’t enjoy. This newfound knowledge may even help you better approach the stuff you dread through incorporating some characteristics of the work you love.
Once you’ve recalled a few of the projects you loved, take a minute to write down all the things that energized you about that work. What about it made the work so engaging and enjoyable? Next, dig deep to resurface a few projects that you might rather forget. Spend one minute writing down all the things that made this work so unpleasant. Are there patterns you can pull out? Try to get to the bottom of what qualities of the work characterize each feeling.
You should now have a piece of paper filled with qualities that make you, you. Now you’re ready to craft an elevator pitch that’s meaningful, unique, and memorable.
So, where to start? Since everyone has their own distinct story, no two elevator pitches will read the same. Some people prefer to lead with career aspirations and work their way back to where they are today. Others may start with their background and carry through to their future career goals. Sometimes it’s just what you’re working on, what you love, and why you do what you do.
Regardless of format, assume you have about 30 seconds to tell your story. Choose whatever narrative allows you to share who you are most effectively. And remember, you can always change your mind. Your elevator pitch is sort of like a stand up comedy routine; you’re always refining and improving it. Find what feels good and run in that direction.
Different situations will call for different versions of your elevator pitch. Take me as an example. Party Emily is quite different from Job Fair Emily which is different from Interview Emily. I’m still very much myself in all three scenarios, but I choose to highlight different aspects depending on the situation.
Craft the bones of an elevator pitch that you can take with you to all these places. Once you’ve got it down, it’s always in your back pocket, malleable enough to shape-shift depending on where you are, who you’re talking to, and what you need in that moment.
Ready to try your pitch on our team? Visit our Career page to explore our current openings.