5 fast ways to perfect your elevator pitch

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This week’s guest post answers the common freelancer query, “How should I respond when someone asks me what I do?”

As freelancers, we know how important it is to create the perfect project pitch—from research to a targeted cover letter to hand-selecting your best clips and layouts.

But sometimes, you don’t have the luxury of massive preparation to make a positive impression. You know where I’m going with this: How do you keep from freezing up when someone asks the dreaded question, “So, what do you do for a living?” Perfect your 20- to 30-second elevator pitch by following these 5 tips:

1. Write It Out
A moment ago, I said that you don’t have much time for preparation. But that’s not really true. Start by drafting some ideas that take about 20 seconds to say out loud — no longer than 3 to 4 sentences. Every pitch should start with your full name and what you specialize in. From there, you can progress to frequent clients—local newspapers, magazines, large corporations, doctors—and why you’re the perfect freelancer—expertise in increasing sales, lots of connections, etc.

Note: It’s usually best to be prepared to give pitches to variety of possible clients. A magazine editor has different requirements than a CEO who needs help with public relations.

2. Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse
There’s a fine line here. You want to memorize your spiel, but you also don’t want to sound like a robot. Practice your “spontaneous” pitch with friends and family. They’ll be able to tell you if it flows or if you sound too mechanical.

3. Listen, Listen, Listen
A potential client will always drop clues about their interests. Eavesdropping, done judiciously, can also work—say you’re in line at the coffee shop and catch a snippet of someone discussing the need for a graphic designer. You can start off with something along the lines of, “I’m sorry, I couldn’t help but overhearing—did you say that you are looking for a graphic designer? I do freelance work…”

4. Tailor Your Elevator Pitch on the Fly
Want to know what a potential client needs? Ask! You’re trying to sell yourself, but the best way to understand the qualities of the ideal candidate is to ferret out what they are—and then show how you fit the description.

5. Get Carded
There’s no point in giving an elevator pitch if your prospect can’t reach you, so keep a few business cards in your wallet, purse or briefcase. And it’s smart business to show interest in the other party, too, so make sure you ask for their card!

Guest poster Lauren Bailey welcomes connections at blauren99@gmail.com.

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  1. says

    That’s the biggest thing — training myself to keep business cards and post cards for my books, etc., with me at all times.

    Because I’m always running into someone who’s interested in something I’m up to, so I better keep everything handy! 😉

  2. Dr. Freelance says

    @Devon, most of the time I pull them out of my wallet, but I’ve got them stashed in the glove compartments of both cars, briefcase, computer bag, and my wife has a stash, too. Truly, you never know when you need one — it’s cheap insurance!

  3. steven says

    I have lost count of the number of times I have had to scribble my phone number down on a scrap of paper because I forgot to bring cards out with me. I must remember to carry them more often.