Everybody tells you that you have to have an effective 30-second “elevator pitch.”
They’re wrong – you don’t have anything like 30 seconds to make your first impression on a hiring manager, prospective client, or somebody you meet at a networking event. You have just a few seconds to introduce yourself and recite your personal branding statement.
THEN, if the other person is interested, you can go into your 30-second spiel, but only if they invite you to! If they’re not interested, don’t bother.
That’s why your personal branding statement is so important. When you meet somebody for the first time, they give you permission to politely introduce yourself, probably in a single sentence. You’ll know right away if the other person swallowed the bait by watching their body language and by judging their oral response. If they give you permission to say more, you can and should elaborate – but once again, you have to do that without boring your networking partner.
You can validate this for yourself. Try introducing yourself to somebody with your 30-second speech, and then try the same thing with your 6-second personal branding statement. See which one works better, and if you find that what I’ve said here is wrong, comment on this post and let everyone else know what your experience was.
Your personal branding statement is not your job title! It’s the essence of who you are, distilled to just a few words. Mine is: “I help you get found on the Internet.” That’s simple, succinct, and it’s enough of a teaser to get a response like: “Wow, tell me how you do that.” That’s your invitation to elaborate with your 30-second elevator pitch.
Think about this – if you’ve been in groups where people were developing and practicing their elevator pitches, how often were they sufficiently interesting so that you listened to the whole pitch attentively? How often were they boring, and how often did you finish listening without having the faintest idea what the person really meant?
Brevity begets precision. Stephen Hawking really has to work to communicate, yet he’s one of the most influential scientists in history. He has become a master at crafting his communications with the absolute minimum number of words simply because it takes him so long to create a simple sentence. While you won’t have that challenge, you should be inspired by his precision. You can blabber on for hours once the other person has given you sufficient permission, but until then think about Hawking when you craft your personal branding statement and your elevator pitch.
Your personal branding statement should be short enough to fit on one line on your business card. And you should use it there, in your email signature, in your blog postings or comments, as your LinkedIn Professional Headline, and anywhere else where it’s appropriate to promote yourself.