First Strike – Preparing For Your Elevator Pitch

Introducing yourself to strangers may feel awkward or entirely terrifying for you. Or, it can be like a natural conversation with your friends or family. All it takes is planning and practicing; then, it will be a natural conversation with repetition. In the book, Small Message, Big Impact. How To Put The Power Of The Elevator Speech Effect To Work For You, Terri L. Sjodin provides several examples of how “a small message can have a big impact.” I recommend her book as you prepare for your first elevator pitch or if you are working on your communication skills.  

I like to keep things simple and not over-engineer most things in my career and life. In preparing for your elevator pitch, consider the following steps:

STEP 1: Know Your Audience – This is THE most important thing to know in any form of communication. If you don’t know who your audience is, it is less likely you will connect. My recent awakening to this was when I took the Cringe Quiz: Are You Fluent In Gen-Z Office Speak? published in the Washington Post. Although I am the mother of two Gen-Z young professionals, I could have scored better on this quiz. Lessoned learned: it is a good idea to have social awareness in any situation.

STEP 2: Research Your Topic- “Google It” is now a part of our daily vernacular. Social media, news sources, podcasts, and good old-fashioned books are excellent references for your topic or situational awareness. It is best to avoid awkward moments or unattended messages. You want to come across as something other than the smartest person in the room but at least informed and knowledgeable. 

STEP 3: Refresh Online Eminence – Whether you are interviewing for a job or networking at an event, your online persona will influence the impression you make with your audience. Is your latest product or service available in the public domain of your website? Do you need to edit or delete some of the content? Is it time to publish a blog or update your LinkedIn profile or posts?

STEP 4: Outline Your Talking Points- Our attention spans are very short. In the past, an elevator pitch was usually 2-3 minutes. Today is more like 30 seconds. Writing your pitch word for word is unnecessary – use bullets or talking points. The short outline structure typically includes the following: 

  1. Introduction
  2. Body – Talking Points 1,2,3
  3. Conclusion
  4. Closing  

STEP 5: Practice, Practice, Practice – You heard this before, but it is true: Practice makes perfect. The more your practice out loud, the better. Your elevator pitch will flow smoothly and become more authentic. Practice in front of a mirror or record a video. Once you are comfortable with your delivery, practice with a friend or trusted advisor in person. Always ask for feedback and thank them for their time.  

Lastly, the question of Business Card or No Business Card? I have always had professional business cards since the beginning of my career. It was a staple and standard tool used in business. Today that is not necessarily the case. Since retiring from my corporate job, it does depend on the setting and audience when it comes to exchanging business cards. I recently published a poll on LinkedIn: Do you still use business cards for your business networking events? The results were:

You invest in your career or business when you deliver your best with your elevator pitch. The first 30 seconds can make a lasting impression that could lead to immeasurable success.

Warming Up: Why Do I Need An Elevator Pitch?

Over my career, I was asked to introduce myself in job interviews, meetings, and conferences. As a recent college graduate and young professional, my introduction was usually my name and where I worked. As I progressed to jobs in management and leadership roles, I would add my title as I greeted others. Then one day, I was advised that I should go into sales. The next step was to take a few sales training courses, where I first encountered the term “elevator pitch.” From my early years of sales training, people wanted to know more about my background and experiences than just my name and title or where I worked. I understood that an elevator pitch sets the scene by making the first impression and developing a business relationship with the client.   

In the evolution of my career, I found that an elevator pitch was essential and that each role in my career journey required a targeted elevator pitch. As I prepared for my meeting or presentation, I asked myself:

As an Interviewee – What expertise and experience do I bring to the organization? How do I advance to the follow-up interview without overselling my interest in the position?

As an Entrepreneur – What problem does the client have that needs my support? How are my services or solutions different than others in the same market?

As a Business Developer and Sales Executive – How does the company I represent bring value to the customer? Is there a timeline or critical milestone that impacts the buying cycle?

Are you prepared for your next meeting, presentation, or interview? Let’s do it! A well-planned elevator pitch will help you confidently and successfully navigate your career.

What is Social Collaboration?

Since the NoSlackr blog goal is to engage in “Social Collaboration,” I thought it would be good to post a blog on what defines this topic. The short answer is: If you are reading this blog and you want to comment, share, or “like” the blog, you are engaging in social collaboration 🙂

Fundamentally, Social Collaboration is sharing content face-to-face or on a digital platform where others can interact. It is a Group Centric way of communicating, creating, and sharing with a community. The Wikipedia article defines Social Collaboration as: “…the processes that help multiple people or groups interact and share information to achieve common goals.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_collaboration

As a consultant and salesperson, I have had some experience with social collaboration that has only brought positive and high-quality outcomes to solving problems, creating solutions, or selling. For example, I have worked with diverse teams of consultants that work together to solve client/customer problems. The typical process is:

  1. Meet in person or online. The topic is what is the target problem or sales objective.  
  2. Brainstorm, whiteboard, or engage in Design Thinking activities as a team. The group can decide to work together synchronously or asynchronously but always in a transparent and co-creative community. This is where the “special sauce” is made when working socially and collaboratively.
  3. Draft/Finalize deliverables or sales plans. Deadlines drive the pace of how fast or slow the team reaches the final work product or solution. I can say that when high-performing teams work in a social collaboration environment, the pace is accelerated, and results are exceptional.
  4. Follow up or continue the networking onto the next project or group activity. Social Collaboration in Consulting or Sales provides an environment for continuous learning and improvement.  

When it comes to online Social Collaboration, many digital platforms are popular with businesses, including Microsoft Teams, Slack, Google Drive, Box, and more. The acceleration with Work From Home (WFH) has driven adoption to these platforms. Sharing of content is also a huge benefit of digital social collaboration. Personally, my productivity has increased with a decrease in dedicating time on my schedule to meet on a specific topic when the community within a Slack channel can provide me a response or the content I need.

I look forward to seeing how Social Collaboration evolves as the Post Pandemic New Normal transitions the workforce into hybrid work environments. There is no doubt that digital platforms will grow in how consultants and sales professionals work day-to-day.

MRC Is Here

“Hello, step up to the blue circle on the floor. I need you to do three things before going into the room for vaccination. First, take off your jacket. Second, roll up your sleeve. Third, take all of your belongings into the vaccination station where you will receive your COVID shot – and don’t forget your CDC card!”

That was my script as a Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteer at the Arlington County COVID Vaccination Clinic last week. The day started early with a 30-minute briefing by the Point of Dispensing (POD) leaders. Promptly at 9:00, everyone was in their assigned location as we started with the first set of Group 1a appointments for the day.

The POD was Arlington County employees collaborating with Arlington MRC volunteers and representatives from the Arlington County Police Department. Our goal was to administer 150 vaccinations for the day. The process was efficient and well managed from the steps of initial temperature screening at the door, registration, ID validation, staging or “flow” before entry into the vaccination station, and finally, the observation area. The observation area is a 15-30 minute post-vaccination waiting room in the event anyone had any adverse reactions to the vaccine.

By 5:00 PM, we met the mission – 150 vaccinations in healthcare professionals’ arms. It was the end of a long week, but just the beginning of an immunization program to help the community get back to some sense of normalcy that we all miss. To learn more about volunteering with the Arlington MRC, check out the website at https://health.arlingtonva.us/medical-reserve-corps/. The plan for Arlington County’s COVID Vaccine Plan is available at https://www.arlingtonva.us/covid-19/vaccines/.

POST UPATE:

On February 2, 2021 Arlington County published a YouTube video: COVID-19 Vaccinations: Inside an Arlington County Public Health Clinic. Check it out at https://youtu.be/atlQ6-iiMnw

Let me know about your COVID vaccination experience, and remember to “spread the word, not the virus”! Mask up and stay safe.

Is My iPhone Too Smart?

This year’s Christmas present from my son, Brendan, was a book titled: Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life https://speedbird.wordpress.com/my-books/ by Adam Greenfield. With a glance at the Table of Contents, I thought the book will be a resource for the NoSlackr blog.

The first chapter is the Smartphone – the network of the self. Since I use my iPhone a lot, it made sense to write about the technology I use daily. I am a big fan of apps with good design and practical use, such as paying for coffee, ordering at my favorite restaurant, or purchasing an airline ticket and boarding a flight.

The author, Adam Greenfield, states: “We find that a great many of the things city dwellers once relied upon to manage everyday life as recently as ten years ago have by now been subsumed by a single object, the mobile phone. This single platform swallowed most all the other things people once had floating around in their pockets and purses, and in so doing, it became something else entirely.” I agree. My large purse from 10+ years ago is in the past. I travel light these days – iPhone, keys, lip balm.

Adam also reminds us that there is a price for using this radical technology: sharing our data and privacy. So “yes,” my iPhone is too smart!

U Be You

One of the hot topics that I am encountering these days in business is “personal branding” as digital selling is more critical than ever. So what is Personal Branding, and why is it important to your career in sales or business?

When I started my career in consulting years ago, one of my mentors suggested that I develop “my executive voice”. I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant, so I began looking for books and classes on the topic. After searching and asking colleagues if they had any suggestions or examples of executive voice, I discovered that I needed to communicate with confidence and speak with a point of view as a consultant. Their advice included not only my verbal communications but also how I presented my physical self. That was an “ah-ha” moment in my career that was instrumental in discovering my personal brand.

Today, personal branding is who we are in the digital space. We interact and engage personally and professionally via text messaging, social media, video conferencing, blogging, vlogging, podcasting, and more. Our audience is now broader and more transparent than ever before. So it is more important than ever before to be authentic with your brand.
Shelly Lazarus, Chairman Emeritus of Ogilvy & Mather, said it best in this article in Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2014/07/the-former-ceo-of-ogilvy-mather-on-personal-branding
Shelly’s recommendation to “be yourself” is solid advice to anyone in business, sales, or even in our personal lives.

As an emerging blogger, I look forward to engaging with the online community with authenticity and enthusiasm to share. More to come in 2021!

PODS will Vaxx for COVID-19

It is a Saturday morning in December and two weeks from Christmas. Usually, I would be shopping at the mall for gifts and having a nice lunch at one of the restaurants. But not in the year 2020. I just completed Zoom training as a Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteer. The Commonwealth of Virginia is preparing for the mass COVID-19 vaccination efforts as part of the national plan submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

During this training today, I learned that Virginia would manage the statewide vaccination via the local Point of Dispensing (PODs) efforts.  PODs are community locations where state and local agencies dispense Medical Countermeasures (MCMs) to the public during a public health emergency. To aid in rapidly dispensing MCMs, the local public health department will use two types of PODs, open and closed.

The first type of POD is a Closed POD. A Closed POD will collaborate with hospitals and other health care facilities to vaccinate health care workers and staff. Other Closed PODs include private employers such as those that employ essential workers, etc. A Closed POD is not open to the general public.  

The second type of POD is an Open POD. An open POD is available to anyone. Open PODs are community-based with locations in public buildings or outdoor settings such as parking lots.  

In Virginia, the first COVID-19 vaccination efforts will deploy Closed PODs at hospitals. Healthcare workers are the population vaccinated in Phase 1A. As stated during the training, there will be more to come as plans evolve with the nationwide planning and supply chain logistics. To stay informed of the latest, I plan to follow the social media updates via the Virginia Department of Health Twitter Account @VDHgov and the hashtag #VaccinateVirginia.

I’m looking forward to working in the PODs over the next few months. With the success of these efforts, let’s hope December 2021 will be full of shopping and good cheer. In the meantime, see you in the POD!

First Blog Post – December 2020

As a new member of the WordPress.com community, I will repurpose the prompts from the Blogging for Beginners course.

Why are you blogging publicly instead of keeping a diary?

I have been a consultant for 30+ years and most of my writing has been for business purposes. As I prepare to transition to life after a corporate career, I plan to write and share my interests with others that engage in digital collaboration.

What topics do you think you’ll write about?

Nothing specific comes to mind right now. I need to identify who my audience is and how I can promote engagement and value with my writing. I enjoy collaborating with people with a positive and constructive message.

Who would you love to connect with via your blog?

Great question. I am still in the exploration phase with my blog. It will be interesting to see how this blog progresses and evolves.

If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what do you hope to accomplish?

The plan is to engage with a broader community of writers and perhaps clients that need support with digital communications and marketing. Success will be measured by number of followers and quality of online interaction.

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