Prepare Your Personal Pitch

TALKING ABOUT YOURSELF SEEMS EASY ENOUGH—BUT DO YOU KNOW HOW TO EFFECTIVELY SELL WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU DO?

We hear it all the time…

"Always be prepared."

And when applied to your career, that means being ready for tough interviews and meetings, and exuding confidence when selling your personal brand. It means having your pitch—who you are, what you do, and why you do it—readily prepared.

Of course, I’ve heard this a million times myself, but I’ve found it easier to move into social and professional meetings relying on my innate ability to make conversation and think quickly on the fly.

When I first quit my job, I was setting up multiple informational interviews a week, and regularly meeting interesting people across various industries. Each time, I would explain that I was “soul searching” and trying to learn as much as I could about potential career paths. Since I was focused on receiving information and advice that they were sure to give, the pressure was off of me and the meetings were always fun, helpful, and laid-back.

Today, things are a bit different. I’m no longer wondering what I want to do—I’ve begun building my dream career and launching my blog! Life is exciting, but I’m still moving at a very fast pace, and I recently learned (the hard way) that my go-to “informational interview” approach is no longer up to par.

A few weeks ago, I had a meeting with a very savvy business lady, who happens to be very well connected in Los Angeles. Foolishly, I showed up to the meeting as I would have six months ago—planning to ask her a lot of questions and imagining we’d have an easy, flowing conversation from the get-go. I was so focused on hearing about her experience, that I hadn’t prepared anything specific to say about myself!

(Rookie mistake).

Right away, she asked how I’d found out about her, and wanted to know what I was working on and what I was looking to get out of the meeting. She—rightly—expected me to have a pitch and a purpose.

(OMG).

Since she wasn’t bubbling with enthusiasm from the moment I met her (and why should she be)--she knew nothing about me or why I was taking up her time—I felt nervous. I was stumbling over my words, and simultaneously kicking myself for not having anything concise or concrete to say.

After sputtering a (painfully) long explanation of my various projects, I found it difficult to turn the conversation back around to her, and didn’t even get to ask her many questions!

By the end of the meeting—which was brief…because I rushed to wrap it up—I asked what advice she might have for a young professional like myself.

“Always have a pitch prepared.” 

It stung a bit to hear, because I knew she was serving up some fresh advice. But I appreciated her honesty, and I needed to hear it! I had become accustomed to people—primarily close friends and family—responding positively to my various projects, and I hadn’t had to explain myself to someone with less of a vested interest.

I immediately went home to work on the “pitch” that I should have prepared before our meeting. After doing some research and getting some sage advice from my boyfriend (who is a 3rd year law student at UCLA), I was able to pull together a much more concise way to sell my personal brand.

Though the content will change depending on the meeting and objectives, I plan to reference the following outline whenever crafting my personal pitch—prior to every important meeting.

My hope is that this outline will be helpful when crafting your own pitch!

HOW TO PREPARE YOUR PITCH

ASK YOURSELF THESE THREE QUESTIONS:

  • What do I want? (no more than three things)

  • What do they want? (no more than three things)

  • What do they expect—and how can I make my pitch stand out?

Use the answers above to draft a succinct (no more than two-three sentence) pitch about who you are, what you’re working on, and why you’re at the meeting.

  • DO RESEARCH ON THE PERSON YOU’RE MEETING WITH

  • Take notes and consider points of conversation.

  • PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!

  • Practice delivering your pitch in the mirror, on video, and/or with your best friend.

* * * 

So whether or not you are a natural at selling yourself (or are good at thinking on the fly), it’s important to always have an up-to-date personal pitch prepared. At some point, it’s likely you’ll find yourself in some kind of social or professional environment that feels awkward and uncomfortable—and having a pitch rehearsed will help you speak clearly and confidently about yourself and the work that you do.

Just remember: your personal pitch is simply you selling yourself, and who knows you better than you?

This post originally appeared on Career Contessa: http://www.careercontessa.com/conversations/prepare-personal-pitch/search/