I stumbled across elevator pitches in my entrepreneurship class. It’s a simple idea: you get into the elevator, and before the doors close, Bill Gates gets in beside you. You have sixty seconds of his undivided attention. Can you sell him your business idea? That’s where it gets a bit tricky: you have to know your idea inside and out, and make him believe you can execute it.
I came up with a personal pitch after I hit my ‘mid-university life crisis.’ I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I was sure I wasn’t qualified for it and was never going to find it on-campus. I went to as many networking events as I could, but was so nervous talking to people. I could talk about any subject, except the one that really mattered: myself.
So, I prepared to talk about who I was and what I wanted. It was great; I felt better talking to business professionals, regardless of their area of business. It also meant while sitting across from interviewers during my final year, I was eagerly anticipating that one little question… any variation of, “Why are you the right candidate for this job?”
My answer went something like this:
“I’ve focused on marketing and entrepreneurship in my final two years here at Queen’s. I think the business program has given me a strong foundation and my experiences have deepened my understanding of the concepts we learn. My written and oral communication skills are very important to me. I’m an avid writer – I’m involved with an on-campus magazine and have been working on a novel. I was also a finalist in a public speaking competition this year and last, competing against 50 other candidates.
What sets me apart is my creativity. I’m excellent at coming up with new ideas and concepts, whether it’s for case studies, group projects, or my marketing roles with the commerce committees. I want a position that allows me to continue learning and building my skills. That’s one of the things that drew me to your company. I think your values match up with what’s important to me – learning, being challenged and enjoying what I do.”
Having to come up with something original helped me see why my differences were a good thing. It was the perfect confidence booster, and I started to see my accomplishments as accomplishments, not just everyday occurrences. It helped me stand out at networking events and group interviews, and sometimes I even impressed my classmates.
The most important thing about a personal pitch is confidence in delivery. If you know yourself, your experiences and your qualifications, you can expand on anything they like, come across as impressive and leave them with a positive memory. Whether they hire you for the position, or remember you when a colleague is looking for a referral, if you believe in it, they will too.
I still use a pitch as a real estate agent, and now it’s even more important that I can sell myself with confidence. Not only does it make me feel better to know what I’m doing, it helps me stay on top of the unexpected opportunities that life can throw.