Monday, December 20, 2010

How to Perfect an Elevator Pitch About Yourself

--Reprinted from the Harvard Business Review May 2009

You're in the elevator with the hiring manager of Dream-Job Corporation. As the door slides shut, you feel a combination of adrenaline and slight nausea: you've got 15 seconds, if that, to communicate your value as a potential employee in a compelling way — just 15 seconds to cram in a whole resume's worth of work and accomplishments and late nights and successes. There's so much you want to say, but your message has got to be crisp, tailored, to-the-point. Handle this one right, and you'll be the newest member of the Dream-Job team. Flub it up, and you're back to scanning listings on What are you supposed to say?

Here are the five key things to know and do in order to make your elevator pitch successful:

  • Practice, practice, practice. Very few people have the oratorical power to make compelling 15-second speech about their entire professional lives on demand and under pressure. Practice your speech 100 times — literally. Know it, get comfortable with it, be able to tilt it effectively for a different audience. Practice your body language with it: how will you give the speech differently sitting down vs while walking down a hall? How will it be different over the phone vs in person?
  • Focus on impact. Two weeks ago, 60 Minutes aired a segment set at a white-collar job fair. One of the interviewees, a laid-off Wall Street secretary, looked straight into the camera and said, with total conviction, "I can make any boss shine." I wanted to hire her on the spot. Who doesn't want to shine? Describing the impact you've had, and can continue to have, is much more compelling than talking about your number of years of experience.
  • Ditch the cultural baggage. A lot of us have been taught — by parents, teachers, or team-oriented corporate environments — not to toot our own horns, and to use "we" instead of "I". Elevator pitches are all about "I". You've got to get comfortable with bragging about your own individual contributions (in a graceful way).
  • Be slow and steady. Whether out of nervousness or a desire to cram in a lot of information, people giving elevator speeches tend to talk at breakneck pace — which is extremely off-putting to potential employers. Speak at a pace that shows your calm and confidence. You want them to think of you as thoughtful and deliberate — not as some manic babbler.
  • See the whole world as an elevator. Too many people looking for jobs save their elevator speeches for job fairs and interviews. Remember the first rule of sales: ABC (Always Be Closing). Give your elevator speech to everyone — at family gatherings, in the waiting room of the dentist, at coffee hour at your church or temple. You never know where the next job is coming from.

How do you pitch yourself to prospective employers? What advice do you have for other people doing the same? What works — and what doesn't?

Monday, December 13, 2010

New online registration features include All Access Pass

We hear you!

You told us that registering individually for the many Chamber networking events, especially when you're doing it online, can be time consuming.

So we're launching All Access Pass options. We're starting with Monthly All Access Pass options that allow you to click once and register for all of that month's networking events. This generates one bill, one receipt and guarantees you the early bird registration discount for those events.

We're also launching the Women in Business All Access Pass-for those of you who plan to attend all 4 events, you can sign up once and be guaranteed a spot at each event.

All Access Passes are only available for a limited time each month. (After each month's BOB, that month's All Access Pass is no longer available. You'll have to wait until next month.

Watch for additional new options--including an annual All Access Pass, annual Chamber Marketing Plans and Sponsorship packages. Take advantage of everything the Chamber has to offer while spreading payments over 12 months!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Life long learning--keep your competitive edge

This month I've had the opportunity to attend a variety of presentations on new ways for small businesses to leverage internet based tools which can help grow your business.

The impact of iPhones/Droids, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and YouTube on how people get their information (and how they spend their free time) cannot be underestimated.

It's important to know what the right fit is for you, your business and the amount of time you want to dedicate to social media or online exposure. It's also important to know that "It's too complicated, I'm going to ignore it." is not going to help you grow your business.

Why would you willingly hand a leg up to your competition?

I'm not saying you have to be an expert in all areas--but you do need to listen, be informed and think outside of the box (your store front). Just because you've always advertised or marketed the same way doesn't mean it will continue to be effective. This is true of early adopters for Twitter and Facebook too.

Keep sharp. Keep learning. Keep strengthening your strategic edge--and you will see success!


Every day, millions of people use Twitter to create, discover and share ideas with others. Now, people are turning to Twitter as an effective way to reach out to businesses, too. From local stores to big brands, and from brick-and-mortar to internet-based or service sector, people are finding great value in the connections they make with businesses on Twitter.