Making your pitch perfect



When networking, it’s important to talk about how you can help the person and add value to his organization. It may sound obvious, but people often get too caught up in trying to sound natural and overlook this key part of any communication.

Mark Grimm, a public speaker and messaging strategist, said it’s easy to lose track of your core value and wander into personal areas. “So many go about it the wrong way. They talk about the glee club.” It’s fine to be authentic and discuss your interests on an interview, but not at the expense of missing your message. “If I don’t know how [what you are saying is] going to help me, you’re not going to get the job,” Grimm continued.

Practicing an elevator pitch is good because it gets you to take ownership of your skill set and explain it with confidence — just make sure that it doesn’t come off as “canned,” Grimm offered. The trick to mastering this type of effective communication in the job search is to prepare that message and make sure it’s tailored to a particular person.

“The first question is always, ‘What does the audience want?’ ” Grimm said. “Delivering value to the listener is the most important idea.” Job seekers can figure this out by thoroughly researching the company and making preliminary inquiries before the interview.

But interviews aren’t the only venue where one would want to explain her value. Networking events and social engagements can be equally effective forums for such an elevator pitch. These setting require a bit of double-tailoring — to the person and also to the event itself. Speaking to a CEO at a backyard barbecue should be more casual than a formal sales call. You wouldn’t want to ruin the executive’s hot dog because you’re yapping about your accounting accomplishments — but you do want to slip in a tidbit or two about how you’ve saved companies small fortunes between the chicken wings. If delivered correctly, it could be the thing that lands you the big interview in the first place.

No matter the person or the venue, though, the message won’t get through unless you’re sure of yourself, Grimm said. “People are impressed with confidence,” he said. “The vocal issue is confidence. If you come across like you’re whispering, you won’t get it.”

To master that vocal sound, Grimm recommends practicing a variety of phrases in front of a mirror or on camera, even with someone who can provide feedback. “How you come across and how you think you come across can be two different things,” he warned.

But nothing beats the real thing. One of the best ways to gain confidence during an interview setting is to go on as many interviews as possible — and learn from each one. “If you don’t learn from your experience, then it’s not that valuable,” Grimm said. “It’s just a matter of moving forward until you get the job you want.”