You need an elevator introduction. Yes, you, the recently unemployed. Yes, you, the single person who wants to meet someone special. Yes, you, the college graduate who has no idea where to find a job. And yes, even you, the at-home mom.
Not an elevator pitch – which you might use to sell a product or service – a simple elevator introduction which sells you! I am talking about a quick way to introduce yourself which frames who you are, what you do, and where you want to go in a way that makes someone want to continue talking with you. This is your chance to give someone a reason to take a second look at you and see what you want them to see about you.
Everyone needs an effective way to introduce themselves to someone new because we are always in the process of connecting the dots of our lives through the people we meet and you never know where the next connection is going to take you. Making connections opens doors.
Especially if you don’t have a job you like, you need an elevator introduction. Thinking through what you want to say about yourself ahead of time ensures that you don’t miss an opportunity to connect. An elevator introduction which confidently and comfortably rolls off your tongue is the difference between getting a response of “really? tell me more!” and “oh, okay, that’s nice.” We all need to hear “really? tell me more!” – both to create opportunities for ourselves, as well as to preserve our egos.
The single most important function of a good elevator introduction is that it draws your listener toward you into further conversation.
When I had young kids, I used to dread going to social events where I would have to talk with people I didn’t know well. Even though I knew leaving my corporate job to be at home with my kids was the right choice for me, I didn’t feel that I had anything interesting to say about myself. My days were spent filling sippy cups and changing diapers. I was buried in the mundane details of my daily life. Whenever I found myself answering the question, “what do you do?” with “I am a mom,” the response I heard more often than not was something like “oh, that’s great and, uh, really worthwhile, and, um, I am going to go get another drink.”
I realize now that I could have saved myself a lot of awkward moments and had many more interesting conversations if I had found a way to introduce myself in a way that made it easier for my conversation partner to engage and connect with me. I could have said, “I am raising the next generation of slackers” or “I am breeding excellent wives and husbands” – depending on how proud I was feeling about my parenting that day. Either of those responses would have opened up a range of conversation topics that I could weigh in on.
I also could have said “I am doing time in the family trenches before starting my next gig running a custom cupcake business” (or whatever I wanted to be doing next). This response would have directed the conversation around to a place that might yield a professional networking opportunity. Or a referral to a reliable babysitter. You never know where your conversation will lead when you give up the effort to appear “perfect” and share something true about yourself.
As I have often said on this blog, authenticity is the key to connecting. Add in a dose of positivity and enthusiasm and your elevator introduction becomes magnetic.
People connect with each other through aspirations, imperfections, and vulnerabilities. Presenting yourself as “perfect” is just boring, so don’t even try for that. An interesting and authentic elevator introduction makes you more accessible to other people and sets you up for getting more of what you want. Being real about where you are makes it possible to share where you want to go. Every new person you meet brings a wide range of experiences and contacts and could very well be the “dot” that connects you to your next big thing.
In a comment below, tell us your standard answer to “what do you do?” Everyone who answers this question will be entered into a random drawing to win 1 hour of elevator introduction brainstorming with me. In that hour, we will talk about what you do, how you see yourself, where you want to go, and work on your elevator introduction so that it rolls off of your tongue easily and confidently!
Thank you to Taylor for the photo of the rock lady!