We’ve all been there—you’re in an interview for that big job, and the interviewer says something like, “So, tell me about yourself.” What are you going to do, tell her about the 4 seasons of The Office you watched last Saturday? Or, if you want to impress her a bit, tell her about how you made the honor roll a whopping 4 times in high school.
On the other hand, you could always just take the plain, straightforward route. Tell her about how you enjoy working hard and learning, throw in a bit about how you like hiking and football and boom! You’ve got yourself a job, right? Not so fast, guy.
Finding a job is harder than ever. In fact, making connections with people in general is becoming increasingly difficult. Whether you’re hoping to land that VP of Sales position, or just trying to flirt with Jenny from HR, the first 30 to 60 seconds we get to introduce ourselves to someone—our elevator pitch, as it were—are absolutely vital to professional, social, and yes, even romantic, success.
Think about how many people you come across or speak to each day. Now think about how many of those people you remember. Now decide whether you want to be another empty conversation, or something more.
You never know when you’ll need to pitch yourself to someone, but what we can tell you is that second chances at first impressions rarely come around twice. That’s why every 5am.er should be ready with a truly badass elevator pitch for any situation. Here are a few tried and true principles to get you started.
Let’s say you’re a MLB pitcher. Bottom of the ninth, you’ve got the cleanup hitter coming up to bat with runners on, and it’s your job to make sure he doesn’t get a hit. In this situation, it’d be nice to have studied a scouting report, right? If you know this guy’s chomping at the bit to pull a fastball over the Bud Light sign in right field, you’ll know to throw him an off-speed pitch and get him to ground out to your shortstop.
You should go about putting together your elevator pitch in much the same way. What you say depends on the situation, and you need to do some research prior to actually being in said situation. If you’re headed into an interview, know exactly what the company does, what they want out of you, where your interviewer went to college, and memorize the fight song. Your future is worth a half hour of prep time.
Know Who You Are
When someone asks you to tell them who you are, you’d best know that for yourself beforehand. Sit down and do a self-evaluation—figure out what makes you tick. Identify your strengths, make note of your weaknesses, and then figure out exactly what makes you, the individual, the best option for the person with whom you’re speaking.
Taking time to identify who you are will not only help you be better prepared for your elevator pitch, it will make you a better person. If you want to live a maximized life, this is a great place to start.
Part of knowing who you are is not having to spill all that knowledge right when you meet someone. As you learn about yourself, learn what is most important up front, and what you should save that will leave the person you’re talking with wanting more.
Shake It Up
There are a few things that will always be good no matter how many times you hear or see them. Parks and Rec reruns, for example, or NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” (don’t even lie to us, you know you love it). Not included in this list, unfortunately, is your elevator pitch.
Even if your interview pitch is different than your social pitch, and even if you do your research and tailor your pitch beforehand, it’s easy to fall into a rhythm and get stuck in a rut. Don’t sacrifice your personal style, but do try and find something unique and fresh to add to each pitch you make.
Always finding something unique to add to each pitch will help keep you engaged and on your toes. It will also keep you from getting bored of hearing your own voice. The little splash of color you throw on your pitch can be like the ace up your sleeve—it’s what will separate you from the pack.
Communicate Your Passion
No 5am.er is complete unless they care about what they do. When it comes down to it, the most important aspect of any conversation is the interest you have in it. Don’t pitch just to get by, pitch to put yourself in a position where you can get the most out of life.
In the end, the most important part of your pitch is whether or not you care about it. Find a job you want, make a connection with a person you care about, make sure you’re ready, and take a leap of faith. The passion and sincerity in your pitch are more telling than any word you say.
Above any tactic or tip we could give is this—truth will connect you to others, and truth will leave a larger impression than any gimmick. By pursuing a life full of passion and fulfillment, you’ll be able to honestly convey your interest in the connections you make. Be genuine in your interest and passion, and opportunities will follow.