The excitement mounts as you walk into a lavish banquet hall at this conference that you’ve been looking forward to attending. There is a decent crowd and people are milling near the coffee station. You feel the butterflies in your stomach but you take a few steps forward anyway.
Someone walks over to you, looking bubbly and enthusiastic. She extends her arm in a warm, vigorous handshake, “Hello, Amy here, how are you?” She seems genuinely interested and curious about you. You exchange details and then, the dreaded question, “So, what is it that you do?”
Do you have an answer that just rolls off the tongue? Have you thought about the best way to put yourself forward? And if you have, how are people reacting to what you share? Do they appear enthusiastic, confused or disinterested?
Now flip this and imagine you’re in an interview scenario with a recruiter. Do you have the same sort of response when an interviewer is asking this question?
This is a compelling reason for developing an elevator pitch.
What is an elevator pitch?
Essentially, an elevator pitch is meant to allow an individual to put themselves or their idea forward to an important company leader within a limited time frame. In this context, it is meant to provide a quick summary of yourself. Alison Doyle reminds us that “you don’t need to include your entire work history and career objectives. Your pitch should be a short recap …”
Your best case scenario is that this pitch is memorable. It needs to create a sense of curiosity about you and encourage the listener to delve deeper, to ask more questions, to be intrigued.
What’s the argument for a pitch?
The reason for developing a pitch for your LinkedIn profile is simple – you have a valuable opportunity to do so and you should take this up.
If you develop your elevator pitch, you will have spent time to refine your personal brand proposition. That clarity will come across in a confident, purposeful and self-directed manner. This is useful to anyone but especially so for anyone in the middle of a career progression or career pivot.
Unlike a resume, a LinkedIn profile affords you the ability to humanise yourself.
Humanise? Yes, to humanise your profile is to inject your unique personality into the profile. You don’t want to come across robotic or dry. Readers having looked through your profile should come away, feeling something and understanding you a little more.
And there is so much to look at within a LinkedIn profile for a person who is active on the platform and engaged with others.
Emotion, tone, personality and passion are coming across in varying degrees depending on what they are looking at. And there is so much to look at within a LinkedIn profile for a person who is active on the platform and engaged with others.
What does a resume offer? A typical resume will contain personal information as well as a short objective or summary before it moves into your work,related experience and then into education, awards and honours. It has its limits. A LinkedIn profile, however, has a few distinctive features that help you stand out from the crowd a lot better.
So how do you develop your pitch?
Here are some ideas to help you get started on this process.
- Think about how you would describe yourself. Incorporate the Rule of Three to make it memorable. How? In your headline, for example, you could say “HR Leader | Diversity Advocate | Supporting an engaged workforce”.
- If you run a business, consider developing a positioning statement. This is a brief description of your product or service and your target market. Highlight how your product or service fills a specific need in your market.
- Find a way to sum up your life’s work. You are far more than the roles you hold. So look back at your career. Evaluate whether there is a running theme and notice what you seem drawn toward. Identify the things you have been passionate about through the years. You might be surprised to discover things about yourself that you were not aware of before.
- Ask yourself what you want others to notice about you. Undoubtedly, there would be a number of unique points worth highlighting. But as you want to come across aligned and focused, it is best to identify a running theme in your career and play to that. In other words, focus the reader on 1 – 2 things that matter even if it means downplaying other aspects. There will be many opportunities to clarify and shine a light on these aspects in different ways later.
It is less about the path travelled and far more about your direction and goals that matter.
Some people may have taken on roles that do not fit with their trajectory. Perhaps they had to take on a role for a reason. Perhaps there are gaps that need to be addressed. Do not worry about the gaps or the elements that are not as aligned. You’re not being untruthful to not talk it up. What you’re looking to do is to downplay the elements that are not as aligned. It is less about the path travelled and far more about your direction and goals that matter. That is what can help tie all disparate elements together.
In other words, tell the reader what you want them to think about you. The reader will most likely never be completely interested in your entire history. They do not want history for the sake of it. They want a summary of key points and they want to arrive at a conclusion about you. Your reader wants a snapshot that matters, something that can showcase how you’ve taken what you know and made it real for those around you.
This is why developing an elevator pitch is an important exercise but also a repeatable one. As you journey through different roles and companies and as your circumstances change, review your pitch to ensure it is aligned with your direction. Ultimately, your pitch helps you put your best foot forward always.
Where does the elevator pitch fit in your LinkedIn profile?
- The About feature
This feature allows you to tell the reader a little about yourself. While the blank canvas can seem daunting at first, remember to treat your profile as a living document. This means it is a dynamic document that is continually edited and updated to reflect the most up to date circumstance. Editing allows you to switch your writeup in the About feature as you need to (if you are running a particular campaign or there is a time-sensitive project you would like to highlight for a brief period).
- Featured Media
Attach any kind of media to your profile. It could be a set of slides, images, documents or videos.The inclusion of audio, video or images helps pull the reader’s eye especially when these media are well-produced. It breaks the monotony of text present in much of your profile.
- An article or a post
While it may appear similar, there are distinctions between the two including the fact that posts are significantly shorter than articles. Again, there is significant bandwidth here to refine your core message and reinforce your ideas in a different way.
- Background header image
Powerful as it sits above the fold, the background image is, I believe, as important as your profile picture. This is a dedicated area to make a compelling statement that incorporates visuals. Don’t just upload any picture. Use the space to tell a story, to share a message, to reinforce what you share in your profile.
Publications is a feature within Accomplishments in your LinkedIn profile. Anything you have done on third party platforms or your website can benefit from being showcased here.
Let’s tie this all together.
You understand what an elevator pitch is and you know the benefits of developing one. You should regard your LinkedIn profile as a living document which means always open to change and improvement. This should also mean less fear about what you say. If you do get it wrong, simply make a correction. You’ve now got a few ideas about how to get this process started.
Remember there is no right or wrong way to do this
You know yourself best. You know the road you’ve travelled and the hardships you’ve endured. You understand your goals and direction better than anyone else. So you are the best person to develop a pitch that serves you well. Protect your dream. Showcase your dream.
The important thing is to avoid perfectionism and a desire to get it all right, 100 percent and to keep tweaking unnecessarily. That is simply fear manifest. Begin and the rest will follow. Put yourself out there. Ask for feedback. Listen actively to what others say and then look within to see what you feel you need to change or improve.
While we discuss this in terms of your LinkedIn profile, it is an exercise of value regardless of whether you use LinkedIn or not. It will benefit you in a number of ways to have this clarity. The argument for optimising your LinkedIn profile is based on the fact that LinkedIn has over 740 million members in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. This platform has the ability to create economic opportunity for many, many members of the global workforce.
So many have come onto LinkedIn to get a profile and explore but many more still have not. I believe wholeheartedly that those who choose not to actively explore LinkedIn and what it offers are at risk of being left behind in terms of professional visibility as well as access to roles and projects they may be interested in.
This is the time to act. Step forward boldly.