“What do you do?”
If you had 1 minute to introduce yourself to someone new, what would you say? Most people’s response ranges from boredom reporting the same old speech, to dread in having to explain their answer, especially if they are not particularly thrilled with what they would say.
First impressions are very powerful and set the stage for relationships to build upon. Whether you are a woman who is working in an organizational environment, in your own business, or planning a return to the workplace, you need plenty of useful relationships to be successful. Relationships are critical in how we move ahead in life – particularly at a time of professional growth.
We all know that an “elevator pitch” is a few sentences to concisely relate what you do. Here is a great tool from the Harvard Business School to get you going if you don’t already have one.
So, the next time you hear the magic question “what do you do”, I would like you to reframe the situation as a great opportunity. Why not think, “Yippee, I get to make a valuable connection here.” Rather than rattle off your standard elevator pitch, I would challenge you to deliver a more valuable “Elevator Pitch+”.
Elevator Pitch+ = What I’m up to now + where I am headed/my vision
- The plus signifies the addition of “where you are going” to “what do you do”
- The plus is a connector, representing the opportunity to make an important connection with a new person.
This may evoke a cautious response in some of you – “I don’t want to share my vision for the future”..…”they might laugh at me”..…”who I am to dream that big”. Relax, it doesn’t have to be a lot that you share. For instance, you can say “Currently I am giving talks on a local level, but I really see myself taking this national and being a resource for a broader audience.”
The goal is that it is natural, slips right off your tongue, and is flexible enough to work in all situations.
Why is this so important?
- Developing your own clarity – when you have to prepare your own thoughts for other people’s consumption, it forces you to get clearer. And as you speak often about it, it helps you refine.
- Practicing standing in your Strengths and Power – we can all use some practice in OWNING our strengths and accomplishments and being able to present them accurately and positively, with confidence. Repetition is helpful. Don’t be concerned about appearing arrogant or a fake – most often I find women unnecessarily downplaying themselves rather than the opposite.
- Opening Doors to Future Opportunities – how many times have you found that when you reveal what you are really interested in, the other person says “I have just the person for you to talk to”. By revealing a little bit of that dream, you increase the odds of getting connected to someone that can help you make it a reality.
So here is your challenge – Practice this 5 times this week. Take advantage of situations that come up, both the ones that fall in your lap and the ones you have the guts to create.
- Fall in Your Lap: “What do you do?”
- Ones you need to create: “I had such a busy day with clients, I am finally getting out for lunch”. Now that person will naturally ask “what do you do?” By dropping a little hint, you will pique an interest, and create those “Yippee” situations.
And now your next challenge will be how to stay in touch with your new connections! Please get in touch if you would like a thought partner in developing YOUR “Elevator Pitch+”.