Inverting the Elevator Pitch
As you may realize by now, Javelina is in the business of change engineering. Why would crafting an elevator pitch be any different? We help our clients create powerful narratives that effectively translate their intentions and mission, so that they may be more successful. As the business world changes, so must our approach to something like the elevator pitch.
Condensing who you are and what you have worked for is not easy. Sometimes our resumes are unhelpful in conveying the real journey of our work history. What kept us going, more than a paycheck? What caused the leap from non-profit social worker to business owner? The details can mean the difference between getting the job or the connection and continuing to struggle alone.
People want to hear your story! Craft it to generate a sense of trust, rapport and the desire to connect with you. Let people know how you have created and grown your network along the way.
In action, the elevator pitch sounds different depending on your scenario:
In an Actual Elevator
You are alone in the elevator until Jessica Alba, Founder of The Honest Company, walks in. She is going to choose to interact with you instead of talk on the phone or stare intently at the elevator buttons as they light up, floor by floor. You have 30-60 seconds to describe who you are, what your work entails and to make a connection that addresses why the company benefits from a partnership with you and your recipe for a plant-based, BPA-free, baby eczema gel.
During an Interview
You have landed an interview with the CEO of a company whose values align with yours and whose mission is something you can elevate through partnership. You know the meeting will be short due to scheduling. You have x amount of time to make a strong enough impact that the CEO asks to see samples of your work.
Your relationship with this person or company begins with this interaction, but you do not want it to end here.
The moment to recite your elevator pitch can arise in any situation: maybe you are at a conference, a continuing education course, a community or townhall meeting. No matter the space, your mission is to use this time to engage in a meaningful conversation to form a relationship or leave the lingering feeling that you are the person they should invest in connecting with.
It goes something like this:
Who are you and what do you do?
Why should the person you are talking to care?
What outcome do you want from the interaction?
Properly executed, your elevator pitch establishes trust while building rapport and setting a positive tone for future communication. You are crafting a narrative about yourself or your business and you are going to use this story to become more integrated.
Inverting the Story
When someone asks you what you do, instead of diving into what you think you should recite, turn the conversation around to find out more about what they do.
This allows you to craft your future responses to make your answers more relevant to them. You want them to open up to you, reveal their journey, not their resume.
Michelle Golden is the owner or Fore, LLC., a CPF, probability strategist and value-pricing expert. She has been featured within the Top 25 and 100 lists by Accounting Today and CPA Practice Advisor. Her TEDx talk The Elevator Speech is Out-of-Order. proposes using five questions to successfully re-direct the moment of the elevator pitch to facilitate your desired outcome.
Top 5 Questions
Where do you work?
This prompts a geographical answer and is more likely to generate informative answers about the company.
How did you end up doing what it is that you’re doing?
This uncovers the person’s path. How was this non-profit started or where did the CEO begin?
What do you like about what you do?
Creating positive association sets a pleasant tone for their experience with you.
What was that like when you started?
This reflective question yields comparative answers. They are going deeper into their history here. They will associate you with someone who makes them think and who is genuinely interested in them.
How do you approach any aspect of what you’re doing now?
This question reveals complexities or issues. This is a space for you to be of use. How does your skillset measure up to the issues being discussed? How have you guided the conversation to a moment where you offer your services?
Folding Yourself In
Ending the conversation using Golden’s outline involves an offering to this prospective connection in your life. You are well-informed about who they are and how they got there. You understand issues that occurred and strategies used to work through those issues. You may know why they traveled from New Jersey to Wyoming to root their business in Nevada or why their aloe-sourcing process is so particular.
This person will realize how long the story has become and provide you with the opportunity to talk about yourself. If they don’t, you know enough about them to fashion a commonality between the two of you.
“It has been my experience that finding the right communities to invest in to create fair-trade agreements is challenging when it comes to certain plants. When we were searching for an organic lavender source for a local tea business, we had so many cultivation requirements to meet for the product to be edible. Come to think of it, many farmers had multiple crops and I know a few cultivated aloe vera. Let me put you in contact with this resource, it will cut your search-time by at least half.”
Perhaps you cultivate aloe. Whether you connect this person to another person or to a resource that will enrich their experience somehow, they will remember the extra effort you put into your meeting with them.
Not every elevator conversation ends in running the company of your dreams or landing a position within it. Expanding your network by making it clear who you are and how you are of use keeps you on the path to get you where you want to be. This path fosters relationships and connections. Ultimately, we all envision a fabulous end game. We see the last page of the story. It looks really good. The people we connect and who we connect with along the way re-draft that story as we go along.
At Javelina, we understand the importance of community connection. We know advancing equality and human dignity through social, political and economic change is a collaborative effort. We work to connect people who will expedite that process to create a better world for all of us.
If you’re interested in learning more about how your business can become involved in change-engineering or have questions then you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.