by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
Although I have written articles about elevator speeches and elevator “stories,” an obvious use for communicating accomplishments while networking, I have never been completely comfortable with the concept of this type of short pitch in networking situations. (Elevator speeches are so named because they are designed to be spoken in the time it would take an elevator to travel up or down a building — typically around 30 seconds.) Some experts, in fact, have declared the elevator speech dead. These days I prefer what Stephanie West Allen calls the “Wow! How?” statement, which she defines as “a short statement of what good you do for a person or organization.” It’s a low-key way to grab attention and be memorable in networking situations by dropping a teaser line that intrigues the listener into asking you to tell your accomplishment. One of Allen’s examples: “I show organizations how to raise the productivity of their people by incorporating a very positive mood, atmosphere and spirit.” (See more examples). “After you make your statement,” Stephanie writes, “… they will say, ‘Wow! How?'” That’s when you can tell a accomplishment about how you do what you do. Overall, keep your audience in mind when sharing accomplishments with network contacts. Think in terms of mutual benefit. How might your accomplishments offer value to the other person? Author Peggy Klaus recommends that accomplishment communications delivered in networking situations be meaningful and valuable to the other person, spoken in the context of your conversation with that person, and imbued with style and substance. Audience is a key feature of the “pitch” approach that authors Miriam Salpeter and Laura M. Labovich recommend in their excellent book, 100 Conversations for Career Success. They offer sample networking pitches of varying lengths that spell out the target audience, the “problem I solve,” and impact/results. Sample of a short pitch with impact/results:
As a project manager and senior adviser in the environmental energy industry [target audience], I’ve had a significant impact on energy and environmental policies and can bridge the gap between the technical community and the management interests [problem I solve]. At Company X, I developed and led a green-I.T. project, which resulted in a 30% reduction in electricity costs — translating to a savings of $65,000 per year [my impact/results]
Convey any accomplishment delivered orally — not just during networking, but also in job interviews, performance evaluations, client pitches — with excitement and enthusiasm, but also humility.
Back to Communicating Your Accomplishments: Samples for Every Phase of the Job Search and On the Job.
Read more about brainstorming, tracking, and leveraging career accomplishments in Katharine Hansen’s book, You Are More Accomplished Than You Think: How to Brainstorm Your Achievements for Career and Life Success.
Career and Work Accomplishments Section of Quintessential Careers
Find expert job-seeker accomplishments tools, resources, samples — free expert advice about maximizing career accomplishments in this section of Quintessential Careers: Career-Job-Work Accomplishments Resources for Job-Seekers. Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., creative director and associate publisher of Quintessential Careers, is an educator, author, and blogger who provides content for Quintessential Careers, edits QuintZine, an electronic newsletter for jobseekers, and blogs about storytelling in the job search at A Storied Career. Katharine, who earned her PhD in organizational behavior from Union Institute & University, Cincinnati, OH, is author of Dynamic Cover Letters for New Graduates and A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market (both published by Ten Speed Press), as well as Top Notch Executive Resumes (Career Press); and with Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Dynamic Cover Letters, Write Your Way to a Higher GPA (Ten Speed), and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Study Skills (Alpha). Visit her personal Website or reach her by e-mail at kathy(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.