Book Review: Pitch Like a Girl
From time-to-time, as we receive career-related and job-hunting books and other resources from publishers, the staff of Quintessential Careers will review them to help you make better decisions about the best books to use in your career and job search.
Pitch Like a Girl: How a Woman Can Be Herself, Ronna Lichtenberg, $23.95, Hardcover, 346 pages, Rodale, Inc.; ISBN: 1594860096.
Reviewed by Katharine Hansen
Am I the only dinosaur who remembers that at the height of the women’s movement in the 1970s and for years afterwards, it was considered demeaning to refer to a woman over the age of 18 as a girl? Pitch Like a Girl is a cute title for this book, an amusing play on words, but I do find it discouraging that the use of “girl” to refer to the female gender has become so widespread.
Lichtenberg’s defines a pitch as “nothing more — or less — than using your influence, skills, and powers of persuasion to gain support and get people to do what you want them to do.” She goes on to note that “You pitch to land a new job, launch a new career, or start your own business.”
Pitching like a girl, Lichtenberg contends, “means doing it your way, by incorporating the desire for connection into transaction.”
To help you decide if Pitch Like a Girl is a worthwhile addition to the bookshelf of motivational books for women, here are the top 10 things I learned from Lichtenberg’s book.
1. The styles in which people prefer to do business can be divided into pink or blue, according to Lichtenberg. You can take an online quiz to find out which you are.
2. The three things that can hold a woman back from becoming successful are (1) failure to understand biological differences between male and female brains (a hot-button-issue in the wake of Harvard president Lawrence Summers’ inflammatory comments on this subject); (2) stereotypes about women; and (3) negative self-beliefs. In a subsequent chapter, Lichtenberg elaborates on the Top Eight Brain Sex Differences and What They Mean for You, six stereotypes about women and how to challenge them, as well as examples of negative self-beliefs and how to move beyond them.
3. An emerging hot topic in the career-development field is the notion of personal branding and self-promotion. Lichtenberg’s take on this concept is “Me. Inc. Lichtenberg broadens the concept to encompass a sort of self-management. “Me, Inc.,” she writes, “is only about your offerings in the marketplace. Marketplace judgments about value, about price, are not about your own personal worth. Your personal worth is far beyond the value of money.”
4. Lichtenberg also has a broad definition of the concept of “prospects.” Prospects can simply be members of your network and people with whom you share interests. Our except, Slime-Free Networking, is from Lichtenberg’s Prospects chapter. The author also offers in this chapter a useful feature called “Create a Targeting History,” that helps you understand patterns and trends in how your efforts to develop prospects have worked in the past. This analysis can work whether you are scrutinizing employers, sales prospects, or network contacts.
5. Lichtenberg notes that every pitch needs two basic elements:
- A description of what you have to offer.
- An explanation of why what you have to offer will benefit your buyer.
From the job-hunting perspective, these two elements are so important, yet so often neglected by job-seekers. Lichtenberg contends that “pitching like a girl” is especially powerful in this instance because women know all about nurturing relationships. “In pitching situations,” she writes,” we just need to apply the kind of benefit thinking about relationship[s] that comes naturally to us in a smarter, more purposeful way.”
6. Doing your homework about those you want to pitch is key, in Lichtenberg’s view, advice that we constantly try to hammer home to job-seekers. The author offers comprehensive suggestions for finding out everything worth knowing about targeted “pitchees.” The homework chapter contains a dandy feature about both mining and quantifying your own accomplishments, as well as an exercise that helps women learn to toot their own horns.
7. Lichtenberg devotes five chapters to crafting, pricing, packaging, timing, and delivering the pitch. In her crafting chapter, she suggests writing a working draft of the pitch. Of course, you won’t read or even memorize what you’ve written when you actually make the pitch. Her suggestion aligns with research we’ve been conducting about writing down responses to frequently asked job-interview questions. “Putting your ideas on paper allows you to physically see what you’ve got, read it aloud, and hear how it will sounds to others,” Lichtenberg writes. “Writing helps you refine your ideas and see where you need more detail or support, or sometimes even an entirely new approach.” It’s also possible that this draft will become a written pitch — a cover letter, part of a resume, a sales letter, a proposal.
8. The chapter on packaging the pitch devotes considerable ink to packaging the pitcher. Those who’d like to know more about making the most of attire, jewelry, accessories, and hair will find this chapter helpful. Transcending this personal packaging advice is a section on tried-and-true methods of adapting your communication style to your prospect’s.
9. A potentially off-putting section of the packaging chapter deals with flirting. Lichtenberg’s rationale is that if you’re prone to flirting, you’ll do it whether or not it’s appropriate, so the author is there to tell you how to “manage” flirting in pitching situations. I think the book could have done without this section, but maybe some women will find it useful.
Bottom line: I’m not wild about the very broad generalizations about pink and blue people. I found myself, as someone whose orientation is in career development, wanting just to filter out all the material that related to other kinds of pitching — and just isolate the job-search advice in its own book, which would end up being not especially targeted to women. Applying the pitching angle to various venues — job-searching, starting a business, seeking a promotion, proposing a new idea in your current job, adding people to your network — will likely appeal to some women. I can’t help feeling, though, that the pitching message has gotten a bit diluted by trying to cover so many kinds of pitching. Still, Lichtenberg offers some strong advice and exercises that you won’t find elsewhere, so the book is worth a look. It’s nice that the author has provided sample chapters and excerpts so the reader can sample before buying. That method, too, is a viable way to pitch.
Check out all our book reviews in Quintessential Reading: Career and Job Book Reviews.