24 September 2010

30 Seconds to a New Job

By Elizabeth Hanink

You’ve heard of elevator speeches, haven’t you? It is the 30-second spiel you can use if a potential employer or client happens to ride up — or down — the elevator with you. You give it, they are impressed, they offer you a job while holding the doors open with their elbow, and you both live happily ever after. Sorry. There’s more to it than that.

For one, these little gems are applicable in many situations. You don’t have to be in an elevator, you can be in line at Quiznos or riding the MTA. You can even leave these little speeches as voice mail. Although 30 seconds is standard, a tad longer is OK.

What you want to cover is simple: who you are and what you do. However, the way you say this is critical. There is no room for jargon, and your phrasing should tell less about you and more about how you can help your target. Let them know what is in it for them. So, instead of, “I’m a hairstylist,” you might want to say, “I help a woman look her best by creating a hairstyle that suits her life.” Or, rather than, “I do bookkeeping,” use, “I help small organizations like yours balance their books and complete the payroll.”

After you decide what to say, practice, practice, practice. You want to sound natural and conversational. Keep eye contact, breathe and finish by handing your prospect a business card or by asking for an appointment.

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