Effective communication in the workplace
Effective communication in the workplace

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Effective communication in the workplace

4.2 Networking and ‘elevator pitches’

‘Networking’ is a process of human interaction that aims to increase your number of social or professional contacts. Once established, these contacts may help you in numerous ways.

Networking events are formally arranged by many organisations but networking can also happen spontaneously when you meet someone in an informal environment, such as the school that your child attends, your book club or a training event.

Whether you are networking formally or informally it is useful to prepare a few lines to say about yourself, for example if someone asks what you do. This is often called an ‘elevator pitch’.

An elevator pitch is a short summary of yourself, focusing on what you would like the other person to know. As the term suggests, the delivery of this ‘pitch’ takes the same amount of time as a short journey in a lift or elevator. Remember that it should be brief and informative.

As with many of the communication techniques already covered, your elevator pitch should be relevant to your audience.

Activity 3 Create your own elevator pitch

Timing: Allow 25 minutes for this activity

Watch the following video of three different elevator pitches.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 2
Skip transcript: Video 2

Transcript: Video 2

RACHEL BLACKBURN
The background to the elevator pitch we have at US2U Consulting is the fact I wanted to make sure I created a company where every single organisation out there I know would benefit from one or more of US2U Consulting services.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
So this is my elevator pitch. US2U Consulting-- we're a great team of highly skilled people. And what we do is work with a whole range of different sorts of companies and organisations to help them become more successful, achieve their goals, and make more money. And our strapline plan is that we guarantee to make a positive difference.
I think the elevator pitch has led to interesting business opportunities. Clearly, I can think of different breakfast forums I've been invited to, different entrepreneurs forums, where through being invited to make an elevator pitch, I have hooked up a certain level of interest. Clearly, the goal is them being to go and see the individual in their office, find out about their business. And often, that's then lead to opportunities to do leadership development, to do assessment of the talent in their company, and so on, which we can then demonstrate has made a positive difference.
JAMES FROWEN
To some extent, I wouldn't like to use the term, but it's almost like a sales pitch.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
This is my elevator pitch. I work as a senior enforcement manager for Companies House. And Companies House is a registry for over 3.2 million companies. We achieve world-class standards.
But before you ask, how do we do this, well, we continue improving our processes and services to make sure they're efficient and effective for our customers. As a result, over the years, I've developed a specialism in continuous improvements as well as operational change management. I thrive on creating the right environments and approaches to help engage people within organisational change.
In 2014, I was awarded Student of the Year for my first class BA Honours in Leadership and Management. I'm also a qualified coach and trained facilitator, and I’m registered as a chartered manager with the Chartered Management Institute. Thank you.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
It gets you used to being able to kind of look at yourself from maybe different perspectives, because how your elevator's pitched is how people are going to perceive you as a person, as a brand, as a network contact, and what value you're going to bring to that kind of network.
KELLY DREWERY
You need to be able to stand out from your competition. So it became obvious to me that having a personal brand and having an elevator pitch was important.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
So here's my elevator pitch. I work with employers to help their workers be happy and productive. As a business psychologist, I help organisations with their people challenges in their organisation.
So that could be about employee retention. It could be about performance issues that an employer has. Or it could be as the organisation is going through change, trying to keep people on-board with what's actually happening in the organisation-- keeping them motivated and happy. So it's all the people issues that you might have in the organisation. It's all the different people issues in the business. So tell me more about you.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
Clients don't necessarily need you, need your services in the immediate moment that they meet you at a networking event. So they may want to call you, say, six months down the line. And you want to stick in their mind at that point of time.
And they think, I know a business psychologist. I know that they can help me with this issue that I've got with my workforce. I think, working in the field of consultancy, you need to be memorable.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
End transcript: Video 2
Video 2
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

In the box below, summarise your opinion of each of these pitches and choose the one that you like the best.

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Now have a go at writing your own elevator pitch. You could model it on the one you like the best in the video or do something else. Think about the following:

Duration: Around 30 seconds long.

Message: What information would you like to communicate?

Keep it engaging: How will you explain what you do in an interesting way that keeps the person’s interest?

Discussion

Do not worry if your pitch is initially too long. It is important to have a starting point and you can always edit it down. If you really struggle to make it shorter, ask a friend or colleague to help you. A good tip would be to record yourself on your phone and ask them to watch you.

Watch the following video to see how our three volunteers found the creation process.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 3
Skip transcript: Video 3

Transcript: Video 3

RACHEL BLACKBURN
One of the difficulties I had with my elevator pitch is there's no one clear thing that we do that actually helps businesses other than we help them make more money.
One of the challenges, therefore, is to convey something which is enticing so the person I'm engaging with is fascinated to want to learn more. Because the goal is not actually to sell a product or service there in the elevator, it is just to entice them in.
JAMES FROWEN
Interestingly, I started writing that elevator pitch out and it was probably 50% larger than what I actually said. So it was easy to fall in the trap of putting too much detail in there.
But then by drafting and redrafting and looking at it again, I was able to maybe make that much more succinct. So its very much trying to impart, I suppose, who you are, where you work and the key qualities that you're going to bring.
It's about maybe getting the right pitch in the right tone, even down to maybe the body language and what you're wearing. It's all part of that key message.
If you can get used to saying that kind of pitch-- maybe standing up, practicing it, practicing it with friends, practicing it with families or fellow colleagues-- that journey itself is going to increase your confidence.
KELLY DREWERY
It's quite hard to sit down with a blank sheet of paper and write your elevator pitch. I think it's really valuable to have somebody else working with you, so that they can give you feedback about how you're presenting your pitch.
So in terms of putting my elevator pitch together, I had a coach actually help me think through what the key values were that I offered and how to structure the short paragraph, as it were, that you need to be able to get out, so the key benefits that you offer somebody. And also how to make that personable and interesting-- and the nature of the words that you're using, making the language warm.
The first sentence has to be the key message that you want to get across. So I work with employers to help their people be happy and productive. So getting that sentence to under ten words and really spending time on getting that first sentence absolutely spot on, practise it, practise it. So that it comes across as natural when you start a conversation.
RACHEL BLACKBURN
I think it's really great to have an elevator pitch and everyone should have one. However, it's useful to ask some questions to find out the person or people you're talking with first of all, because then you can tweak your elevator pitch accordingly. The emphasis may be on different parts of your products or services that may be more relevant and more in tune with the actual people you're engaging with.
End transcript: Video 3
Video 3
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Once you have created your pitch, practise it in front of the mirror so it doesn’t sound strange when you say it out loud!

Other useful networking tips include:

  • Practising your networking skills is really valuable. Striking up conversations with strangers may be outside of your comfort zone, but if you practise and use this skill you never know when it will pay off.
  • If you are attending a formal networking event, try to have a plan. Give yourself a target for the number of contacts you would like to make. Try to find out who will be attending and decide if there are specific individuals that you would like to meet. Remember that even if the people you meet can’t help you directly, they might be able to introduce you to someone who can.
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