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Get Job Contacts with an Elevator Speech

by Ron Kurtus (updated 17 December 2021)

If your goal is to advance in your career and become a champion in your profession, you need the help of others who can provide you with leads to better positions. The way to find such people is to let others know of the value of what you do, as well as your potential.

Whenever you meet another person even in a brief encounter, you want to let that person know what you do in a manner that is interestingly enough to warrant further conversation or even desire for a future contact. The way to do that is by having a prepared "elevator speech" or short and interesting description of what you do.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

How can others help you?

Most jobs are obtained through personal contacts. Either someone tells you about an opening or you know someone at a company who puts in a good word for you, resulting in getting hired. Likewise, most promotions within a company are gained through personal contacts and friendships with the right people. Right or wrong, that is a fact of life.

When you meet a stranger, it is worthwhile to make a good first impression and get the person interested in what you do for a living. That person may know someone who is looking for someone with your skills or may want to help you in some other manner. Some people simply want to help, while may do this to gain favor from someone else.

Even if the person cannot help you, he or she will most likely remember you and identify you with your profession.

What do you do?

Suppose you are on an elevator, waiting for a bus, or in a meeting of a professional organization and you get in a conversation with another person who asks you what you do. You could say, "Account Manager" or "Sales Rep for Johnson Co." or "Help Desk Technician" followed up by "What do you do?" That would pretty much end your part of the conversation.

Instead, you want to describe your job in a way that is interesting and would cause the person to want to hear more.

In the TV comedy show "Taxi" that was popular a number of years ago, the main character Alex was invited to a party primarily consisting of professionals. He did not fit in, and if he told what he did for a living, he would have probably been avoided as if he had some disease.

So when asked what he did, he said, "I put out oil well fires." This immediately attracted the interest of everyone—especially the ladies—and they crowded around him, asking him to tell more about his job.

Of course this was a comedy, and you should not lie about what you do, but it did point out the fact that an interesting job can result in people wanting to know more about you.

Thus, you need to put an interesting twist on the description of your job in order to point out the value and importance of it to the company, as well as to result in further conversation about your position.

Elevator speech

What asked by someone what you do, you can give a very short explanation, followed up by further elaboration. This is your prepared elevator speech.


A sales representative could say:

"I help my customers receive value and service, while enhancing our company's profits."

That sounds positive and gives the impression that you would be a good person to have in any company. It also might cause the other person to ask for more information.

At that time you could go into some interesting detail, such as:

"I sell widgets to large corporations. My whole philosophy is customer satisfaction. That provides me with good commissions and keeps my bosses happy."

You don't want to talk too much. Remember that you may be on an elevator, and you want the other person to have a chance to say, "Could you give me your card?"

If he or she just says, "Oh, that's interesting," you can then reciprocate by asking, "What do you do?"

Striking up a conversation

Striking up a conversation at a party or on an elevator is a skill in itself. You might make some common interest comment about the weather or such. At a party, you could have time to ask the person what he or she does. This might lead into the person reciprocating by asking what you do.

Since there isn't the time in an elevator, you might make an off-hand remark about work that would lead you into telling what you do, even if not asked.

You: "Boy, I've got a busy day at work today."

Other person: "Oh?"

You: "I work at Johnson Company..." Then you go into your elevator speech.

Of course, you want to give the person enough time to respond and want further information.

In conclusion

To advance in your career, you need to meet others who can provide you with leads. The way to do that is whenever you meet another person let that person know what you do in a short and interesting manner that may result in further conversation and a future contact. The way to do that is by having a prepared "elevator speech" or short and interesting description of what you do.

Be interesting

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