When you are looking for a new job, networking is a critical step to help you connect with other people in the industry. You’ve probably heard the saying that you only get a single opportunity to make a good first impression, and networking with an effective elevator speech can make-or-break your job hunting efforts.

What is an Elevator Speech?

This speech is a quick summary of who you are and the skills that you can offer to the company. The process received the nickname “elevator speech” because of the idea that you should be able to convey your message in the time that it takes to ride an elevator. Most potential contacts don’t have the desire to listen to a long, drawn out explanation, which is why you need to capture their attention within the first few moments of the conversation.

It is important to have your elevator speech prepared in advance, because you never know when you are going to meet someone who could be a potential connection for the next step in your career. If you find yourself in a conversation where the other person is asking about you, then you need to clearly convey your message without stumbling over your words and feeling uncomfortable because you don’t know what to say.

Elements of an Effective Elevator Speech

There are several important elements that should be included in your elevator speech:

  • Start with a “hook” or a question.
    You need to make sure to fully engage the other person in the conversation from the moment you begin, because you only have a few moments to make your speech. Begin by asking them a question about a common problem, or have a catchy hook that makes them curious about your skill set.
  • Show how your skill set solves a problem.
    Instead of boring the other person with a lengthy history about your education and experience, a better option is to continue the conversation by explaining how you solve a specific problem that many businesses face. Tell the person a boiled down version of your skill set, focusing on the benefits that you can offer a company.
  • End with a call to action.
    Wrap it up nicely with a call to action that encourages them to engage with you further. For example, you might clearly state that you are looking for a new job, and explain the reason why it is time for you to take the next step in your career.

It is important that you limit your elevator speech to 30 seconds or less, because you will quickly lose the person’s attention if you ramble on for too long. Also, make sure that you are talking with a normal, conversational tone. It is easy to slip into a robotic way of speaking, or to make it sound unnatural when you are repeating the same information over and over again. Practice various ways to explain your skill set, so that you can make it a natural part of any conversation.


Written: January 2015