Careers, Elevator Pitch, Job Search, Networking, Personal Branding, career advice, career management, personal brand management

How To Create A Memorable Elevator Pitch

Mary Rosenbaum | March 9th, 2015

What type of reaction do you get when you introduce yourself at a conference, meeting or networking event? So much has been written about the elevator pitch yet most people still have a hard time making it sound compelling, authentic and memorable.

I attended an event a few weeks ago and was surprised at how people described themselves when asked about their job or business. It was as if they had memorized a speech – not a long one of course because this was their elevator pitch, but they sounded canned and well rehearsed. Needless to say, they weren’t memorable.

If you are doing something you enjoy and are good at, describing it to anyone else should be easy; it should flow. And even more importantly, it should excite or create interest in the listener. Instead these descriptions sounded as if they were reading a label describing the contents of some packaged food product. Even worse were some of the catch phrases like – “problem-meister” – cute but could be off-putting to some.

When deciding on what to include in your introduction, think in terms of what you want them to remember about you. Here are some ideas you might want to include.

Your Introduction Should Answer These Questions

- What you do?

- Who you do it for?

- What are your deliverables (the pain points you eliminate)?

- Why should I hire or use you?

You Want To Tell Them Why

Adding some insight into who you are and why you do what you do provides an excellent foundation for connecting with other people. We always look for some commonality when we meet someone new. Sharing a passion or interest, especially if it relates to what you do opens the door for further conversation. So answer:

- What am I passionate about?

- How does my work help me feed that passion?

- What makes me feel good about what I do?

Give Them Results – Validation

- How has my experience enabled me to be successful in the work I do?

- How does the work I do satisfy my clients’/company’s needs and goals?

Be Genuine

Authenticity is magnetic. If what you say is genuine, this will elicit further questions not only about your service or work, but about you as well.

Mix It Up

Whenever I introduce myself, I have a different way of saying it each time. Although there are points I want to make, by not memorizing a script it’s more authentic and can be geared specifically to the audience I am addressing. By trying out different introductions I get a much better sense of what resonates with my audience.

Now give it try and put more of yourself into your introduction or pitch.

Need help strengthening your brand positioning? Whether you’re looking for a job or seeking a promotion, and you want to take control of your career, let’s talk about how I can help. Contact me.


Storytelling is Not Just For Kids

Mary Rosenbaum | April 12th, 2012

I believe so strongly in the power of your story that I am giving away a free ticket to a terrific virtual storytelling conference (Reinvention Summit 2).

Why do I think storytelling is so important? Personal Branding is all about understanding what makes you special, what helps you stand out, and what you can do to spotlight what’s great about you. As I have written before, your personal brand is about all of you – your passions, your values, your interests, your talents, your skills, your thoughts about the world – and how all those came about – your story.

When I read a book I always like to know more about the author – where they came from, where they live, a little about their family – basically any insight I can glean adds to my experience of reading the book. The popularity of magazines focused on TV, music, and movie celebrities attests to the demand fans have for background stories and insider information. The same holds true for you as a professional. The more people know about you the more they remember, the more there is to like, and the better they understand why you do what you do. Your back-story is what creates an emotional bond. Decisions involving functional needs (hiring, promoting, etc) are heavily impacted by emotions. So learn to create that emotional bond.

Here is an offer you can’t refuse. I snagged an extra ticket to Michael Margolis’ Reinvention Summit 2 and I am making it available to one of you. It’s a virtual conference that starts next Monday and runs for a week. It’s all about storytelling in a business environment. Check it out and if it’s of interest to you then follow these instructions:

Here is how to snag your free ticket:
Write to me and tell me why (in no more than 200 words) attending the summit would be good for you. There are no guidelines except to say that the argument should be compelling and attending the summit should be in line with your career/business/future goals and NO MORE THAN 200 WORDS. You can email me at email hidden; JavaScript is required with your pitch. I will respond to the winner by Sunday evening. Good luck and I look forward to reading your stories!

P.S. Pass it on to your friends!


Personal Branding: It’s All About HOW You Do What You Do

Mary Rosenbaum | January 20th, 2011

I am sure you remember learning about the 5 W’s of writing when you were in school – Who, What, When, Where and Why. The 5 W’s for report or article writing were ingrained in all of us as a means of communicating enough information so the reader understood the facts.

In Personal Branding, the best way to communicate your differentiating values and skills is to answer the questions: What, Why, and How. In a past post I wrote about the importance of Why – your passion – in having others understand what motivates you to do what you do. The background story provides a stickiness and makes it memorable in the mind of the listener. It helps them connect with you on a deeper level as the Why shows rather than tells them about your values.

The What consists of your skills, abilities, education, experience, talents – everything that I call table stakes. The What is what gets you in the game. The What is not what makes you stand out. What you do can be replicated and ultimately commodified with time. There are many lawyers, doctors, accountants, financial analysts, coaches, etc. whose What equals or surpasses yours. What they do may not be identical but it may be a good substitute for what you do. This is not meant to minimize your abilities but to recognize that the way to stand out and be memorable is through your Why and your How.

The How enables you to form the bonds and the relationships that result in developing the trust and like-ability you need for someone to recommend you, use your services, promote you, or hire you. As much as your Why shows the listener what some of your values are, the How shows them the way your values lead your life, your career, or your business.

I was at someone’s home a few weeks ago and a client of my husband’s firm was there. She is not only a client, she is one of their brand ambassadors. She recommends the firm to others whenever she has the chance. I asked her why she recommends them and what she says about them when talking about the firm.

She began describing what I knew to be the values the firm espouses and that each member of the firm is aligned with, and they include the following:

- positive working experience – everyone in the firm with whom she has worked has made it a positive experience every time

- generous – they are inclusive, generously sharing the work and the credit

- reliable and consistent – have always delivered on their promise of value

- creative – they are always looking for new ways to solve existing and recurring problems

- caring – they partner with their clients and genuinely feel their pain

There was no mention of their skill set, the results they delivered, or their knowledge and contacts within the industry. Those were a given. They were the table stakes of what got them in the game. The attributes and values she focused in on were the ones that made the overall experience of working with them rewarding, professionally and personally. In fact, she readily admitted that there are several competitors who have similar skill sets and can do a fine job. But the How of what my husband’s firm does is what tips the scales in their favor. It’s what makes them stand out from the competition.

The How of what you do reflects your values and the values of your organization. So it’s important to understand what your values are and determine whether the How of what you do authentically represents those values.

Here are some actions to take to discover whether you are on target and to gain a better understanding of how your values impact those around you:

1. Get input from your tribe – colleagues, referral sources, clients, bosses – How does what you do affect their opinion of you? Conducting a 360 assessment is probably the most effective way of learning what others think of you. Get those opinions that don’t focus on your expertise – your what – but on your how and why.

2. Do a self assessment – What are the values that are most important to you?

3. How do your values line up with those of your company – are they synergistic or in conflict? How does that affect your work and perceptions of how you perform?

4. Are you in alignment with your values? Is the How of what you do an authentic representation of what you believe in and the way you want to work – or do you feel as if your life is bifurcated, you behave one way at work and another outside of work?

Understanding how your values affect How you do what you do requires both introspection and external feedback in order for it to be meaningful. It is an important part of unearthing your Personal Brand and will lead to more informed behavior on your part and improved success in communicating your unique promise of value. Without it you become a commodity and then it’s all about the price.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum empowers careerists and entrepreneurs to gain greater clarity and more effectively communicate their unique promise of value. Strong leadership means leading with your strengths. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @Careersguru


Make Your Story PITCH Perfect

Mary Rosenbaum | November 11th, 2010

Developing your pitch is probably one of the hardest things to do when marketing or selling you or your service. I know that it is more difficult to sell yourself than it is to sell your company or a particular product. You don’t want to brag so instead you understate your abilities, your messaging is not that clear, or you create a laundry list of skills and abilities that are quickly forgotten.

The questions you should ask yourself when developing your pitch are:

- Would they remember it tomorrow?

- Could they repeat it in six months?

- Was your core message clear?

- Did you connect with your listener?

Here are some tips to help you put your pitch together.

1. Make sure you are emphasizing a differentiating skill or ability that is unique to you and that can’t be easily replicated by others over a reasonable period of time. It’s important to communicate how this translates into a better result for your client or employer.

Here is my example:
When I started up an executive recruiting firm focused on the financial services industry I knew that my experience of having worked on the other side of the desk provided me with the ability to understand candidates better when screening them for searches. I knew the industry, understood the language, had better filtering capability, required less involvement from my clients, and completed searches in less time.

2. Create a narrative, a story, that addresses the arc of how you arrived to where you are now, how that impacts what you do, and how it affects the results of who you work for. Making the story personal makes it memorable, interesting, and keeps it authentic. It allows people to connect with you on a very different level than if you were to describe the whole thing in corporate speak.

Here is my example:

My journey from Wall Street to Executive Search to Personal and Leadership Branding and Career Management has provided me with unique insight into how companies think when looking for executives who can lead and how to position yourself so that your differentiating strengths and value added are spotlighted. My passion is to make an impact, to make a difference on people’s lives and each time I came to a fork in the road my internal compass kept pointing me in the direction that fulfilled my need. I know that when I help clients understand, communicate and leverage what is best about themselves I am having a significant impact on their confidence and on their ability to make the right decisions going forward. Their success becomes my success.

3. Include stories that highlight the strengths you bring to the table. Skill based stories are valuable ways to show rather than tell your successes and allows the listener to extrapolate how he/she might benefit from your services or employment. Instead of saying that you are creative tell a story that illustrates your creativity in resolving a problem or issue. I wouldn’t advise telling many of these stories in a pitch but bringing up a story that the listener can relate to because of his/her own needs would be more effective.

4. Test drive your pitch. Try it out on everyone and watch their reactions? Ask for input. Remember, you are trying to make it real and to connect while still providing the information you want them to hear to keep the conversation going.

Do you have some horror stories about delivering your pitch? Share them with me by emailing me direct. Would love to hear some of your stories.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum helps careerists and entrepreneurs position themselves so they can stand out from the competition. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @Careersguru


Marketing: Lead With Your Beliefs

Mary Rosenbaum | October 7th, 2010

Recently I listened to this TED Talk by Simon Sinek called How Great Leaders Inspire Action. He turns the whole concept of marketing to clients, customers or prospective employers inside out.

What’s the most common way you market your services or your product? Nine times out of ten you sell your services or product or even yourself this way:

- What you do, what product or service you provide

- How you do it, your differentiating qualities, benefits

- Why you do it, your beliefs and values

Sinek believes that successful marketing starts with the Why, then the How, and ultimately the What. One of the examples he gives to illustrate this point is Apple. Apple’s marketing goes something like this:

(Why)In everything we do we believe in challenging the status quo by (How) designing products that are easy to use, cutting edge, pushing the envelope, making sure we keep you ahead of everyone else. (What) Oh, by the way, we make computers and phones.

Who does this appeal to? Anyone who wants to be cutting edge, wants to be the first to have or use the product, who believes in challenging the status quo. Customers are attracted to the company (and its products) because they share the same beliefs.

How does this apply to you? Lead with your beliefs – your values and passions define your beliefs. I always say that people do business with people they like. Another way to look at this is that people are attracted to those who have similar beliefs and values. Marketing based solely on the product or service and its benefits doesn’t raise the bar high enough. Eventually the competition will catch up and then you are just back to a discussion on price – a commodity, not a differentiated or unique service or product.

So take the time and watch the video. It’s worth the 18 minutes you invest. I would love to hear your views on the content.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum helps careerists and entrepreneurs position themselves so they can stand out from the competition. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @Careersguru


Get Personal, Build Relationships and Have Fun Doing It

Mary Rosenbaum | July 14th, 2010

No one ever wants to be compared with a used car salesman (not that there is anything wrong with being a used car salesman) because it has always been shorthand for someone who is slick, dishonest, shallow, and self-interested. These qualities have never been considered attributes but in today’s world where connecting is an integral part of doing business, this type of behavior would be self defeating. Did you ever consider that you might be coming across differently than you think?

Recently I received a phone call from a stock broker pitching his company’s service. My name was on a prospect list made up of past clients. During our brief conversation he went into a monolog of the products and services his company offered and how I might benefit from them. The one thing he never did was connect with me. He seemed nice enough but I could just as easily have found the information he was giving me on the internet or the company’s website.

I wouldn’t say he came across as slick or dishonest, but he didn’t come across as expert, caring, personal, or unique. Rather than try to start a relationship which requires an investment of time he was focused on SELLING 101.

I know you are probably sitting at your computer reading this and saying “I don’t make cold calls so this doesn’t apply to me”. Have you ever attended a cocktail party, a conference, a networking event, a new client meeting? Do you whip out your business card after a few minutes? How do you break the ice? What do you talk about? Do you connect or do you sell?

Success in business is based on relationships. And relationship building is not only good for business; it’s fun if your intentions are genuine. So have fun and remember to:

1. Be Authentic – People have to like you. You may be selling the best product or service in the world, you may be the smartest person out there. If you don’t get people to connect with you on some level, to like you, you won’t get the business or do the deal or get the job. Be honest about who you are and let your personality show through. Connections are made memorable by sharing your stories, experiences, and passions – in other words, your personality.

2. Be Real – People have to trust you. I want to believe that you “care” about me and what I need and that you are not out to just close the deal or get the job. It’s a simple as Making Friends 101-  be curious and get to know them rather than sell them on you.

3. Be Giving – Generosity of spirit is integral to building relationships and of course, to being liked. Real relationships are not based on a quid pro quo. Give help, provide value without expecting anything in return. “Giving is it’s own reward.”

4. Be Consistent – Don’t change gears on me. I have to trust that if I decide to befriend you or hire you, you will consistently deliver on that promise of value.

5. Take Your Time - Make your goal getting to know them, not closing the deal. And that takes time. Lead times are long if you are building real relationships.

You never know, letting people you might not  consider “friend worthy”  into your life in an authentic way may yield some surprising results.

So let’s get to know each other and form some real relationships. Let me know what you think about this post and if there are topics you would like more information on – shout it out.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum helps careerists and entrepreneurs position themselves so they can stand out from the competition. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @Careersguru


The Weapon of Choice in Your Job Search: Your Personal Brand

Mary Rosenbaum | June 28th, 2010

Your personal brand is a great weapon in today’s economy. If you are looking for a job it helps to distinguish you in a crowded universe. Knowing your strengths, talents, values and passions helps you identify and achieve your goals. When you know where you want to go then you can more easily articulate what you offer and why you would be a great hire. Identifying your specific areas of expertise enable you to more easily promote yourself to your desired target audience.

There are common mistakes people make because they believe that casting a wide net will open up opportunities while specificity will limit their chances of securing a position. Here are some things to avoid when involved in a search:

1. Presenting yourself as a jack of all trades (and therefore master of none). Generalists are not memorable and therefore not easily remembered. Stand for something and identify a speciality or differentiating quality so that you stand out. You are not a commodity so find your unique talents and strengths and shine a spotlight on them.

2. Cover all your bases and make sure your resume includes every responsibility you ever held so that nothing slips through the cracks. A resume that has too much information is as bad as one that has not enough. A resume filled with more than what’s needed is asking the reader to pick and choose what he/she deems important. Instead a resume that highlights the skills and talents you want them to see puts you in charge of how you are viewed. The focus should be on the job you want, not the one you had 15 years ago. So take control of what they think, point them in the direction you want to go, and the odds of being singled out increase.

3. One cover letter will do because most people don’t read them anyway. As a former executive recruiter I can say that I read cover letters and often forwarded the contents to potential employers. A cover letter provides the reader with a reason for meeting you. The letter connects the skills they want, the experience you have and the successes you achieved using those skills. It allows you to show personality and to illustrate the knowledge you have of the industry and of them. This is an opportunity to let your differentiating qualities come through and let you personal brand be more visible.

So don’t bury your personal brand in favor of being all things to all people. Instead use the resources that are in your control to spotlight the differences.

Are there other myths or beliefs that should be dispelled when looking for a job or making a career change? Please share them with us.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum helps careerists and entrepreneurs position themselves so they can stand out from the competition. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @Careersguru


Personal Branding – Put Some Passion in Your Pitch

Mary Rosenbaum | June 3rd, 2010

What type of reaction do you get when you introduce yourself at a conference, meeting or networking event? So much has been written about the elevator pitch yet most people still have a hard time making it sound compelling and authentic.

I attended an event a few weeks ago and was surprised at how people, when asked about their job or business, described themselves. It was as if they had memorized a speech – not a long one of course because this was their elevator pitch, but it sounded canned and well rehearsed. I kept wanting to ask them: Where’s the PASSION? Why are you doing what you are doing? Why is it special?

If you are doing something you enjoy and are good at, describing it to anyone else should be easy; it should flow. And even more importantly, it should excite or create interest in the listener. Instead these descriptions sounded as if they were reading a label describing the contents of some packaged food product.

As I have stated many times, your personal brand is about ALL of you. Your elevator pitch should incorporate your personal branding statement – WHY you do what you do and for whom. It should elicit further questions not only about your service or work but about you as well.

There are some basic rules about what should be included in your elevator pitch. Your pitch should provide the following information in a few sentences:

- What you do?
- Who you do it for?
- What are your deliverables (the pain points you eliminate)?
- Why should I hire or use you?

Your answers to the above questions have more resonance if they include not only what you do and the value you provide but how the passion, vision and values you bring to your work make you the person I want to hire, promote, or get to know. You are providing a reason for WHY I would have an interest in hearing more about you, your business or profession.

In crafting your introduction or elevator pitch think about the following:

- What am I passionate about?
- How does my work help me feed that passion?
- How has my experience enabled me to be successful in the work I do?
- How does the work I do satisfy my clients’/company’s needs and goals?

For example, I am passionate about helping people gain greater control over their lives. My experience of over 25 years in executive recruiting, career coaching, and personal branding has prepared me well for the work I do: helping professionals and entrepreneurs gain a greater understanding of their vision, passion, values, skills and talents. It’s only when they have that understanding that they can more effectively communicate their worth, their value added, and then – achieve their desired professional goals. It’s been my experience that having control over their professional lives gives people more choices resulting in greater satisfaction and control over their personal lives.

This is not a canned introduction. I change the way I introduce myself every time I have the chance. That way it’s more authentic, does not sound memorized, and can be geared specifically to the audience I am addressing. By trying out different introductions or pitches I get a much better sense of what works and what doesn’t.

Now give it try and put more of yourself into your introduction or pitch.

Any other thoughts on how to get the passion into your description of yourself? Please share them with us.

If there are topics you have an interest in learning more about please contact me and let me know.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years, Mary Rosenbaum helps careerists and entrepreneurs position themselves so they can stand out from the competition. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @Careersguru


Personal Branding: Treat Your Blog as if it was a Gift

Mary Rosenbaum | May 26th, 2010

If you are like me you have probably received countless birthday or christmas gifts that were not what you wanted or even needed. What did you do with those gifts, put them in the back of your closet, returned them if you could, re-gifted them to someone else? One thing is certain, you didn’t use this gift or benefit from it in any way. In fact, you probably forgot about it as soon as you put it away.

If you want people to read your blog or newsletter you have to think of these communications as a gift. All too often I receive newsletters or blog postings that either rehash old news or reword something either they or someone in the industry has already written about. What they don’t include is anything of value for me. Value can be defined in many ways. For example, it can provide me with a new way of looking at something, or a new approach I can apply to my business or life, or even a story I can relate to.

If you have read my past posts on the value of a strong brand, writing a blog and the rules of blogging then you know that providing your target audience with some added value is more important than just getting something out there with your name on it. Your blog or newsletter should convey your opinions in your area of expertise. One of the benefits of writing a blog is to communicate your thought leadership (your personal brand) in a way that exhibits your expertise in a “show” and not “tell” fashion. Distributing a blog or newsletter that doesn’t provide valuable content can only hurt your personal brand – your reputation. Why? Because people will immediately delete your emails based on their past experience with you.

Just like everyone else, my email inbox is filled with newsletters, email blasts, and blogs. With the limited time we have and the surplus of information we receive make sure the communications you send out are worthwhile. Let’s make sure the delete button is reserved for someone else. If you follow these rules they just might help you keep your audience and grow your following.

1. Know what your target audience wants and needs. Look at the responses (if any) you get from your postings and determine how they can be better focused to improve the content you provide and the engagement you develop with your audience. Research the work of other thought leaders in your industry. Read the comments they receive, see how you can address some of the issues that are being raised, but with a different point of view.

2. Make sure you are not underestimating your readers’ sophistication or knowledge. There is nothing worse than providing information that is so “been there, done that, old hat”.

3. Are you addressing the right target audience? I know I receive emails from companies and individuals providing valuable information on hi tech products for large businesses, classes on becoming a fashion designer, and courses on passing the bar exam, among others. Just because you have someone’s email address it doesn’t mean they want to receive your gift of communication and knowledge.

4. Don’t overuse the send button. Unless you have something worthwhile to write about, don’t write. I know I have said in the past that consistency and constancy in communication builds credibility as well as a following. You should write at least one time per week to maintain that following. But having said this, there is nothing worse than writing just to publish – because you dilute the value of your blog and of your brand.

5. Connect with your readers in a way that resonates with them not only on a business level but on a personal level as well. The more authentic you are in your writing, the more your ideas will resonate with your audience.

Having the right formula – original ideas and content, well written text, reader connection and engagement, – will result in a growing targeted following.

What tools do you use to keep their finger off the delete button? Please share them with us.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum helps careerists and entrepreneurs position themselves so they can stand out from the competition. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @Careersguru


Brand Your Personal Brand in the Minds of Others

Mary Rosenbaum | April 30th, 2010

If you were to ask three colleagues, three friends, and three family members to describe your attributes, strengths, and abilities do you know what they would say? Would they all say the same things? There has been much written about personal branding, in fact, I have written and spoken a great deal about it as well. But have you thought about what it actually means?

Personal BRANDING is the process by which you determine how you want to be viewed by others and then go about BRANDING the words you want them to use when describing you. You are in effect BRANDING your “reputation” in the minds of others.

How do you do this?

1. Find out what others think of you? Have a conversation and ask them the questions that would bring out how they would describe you to others. If you want more detailed information, a 360 assessment is a great tool to use because it offers anonymity and that ensures a higher degree of honesty and accuracy.

2. Do a Strengths, Weakness, Attribute, and Talents analysis (SWAT) using information they provide and include your own self analysis. Once you have this information determine which skills, talents, abilities, attributes and strengths are ones that will further your career. Those are the ones you want to highlight. If there are weaknesses that might prevent you from attaining your goals, think of ways you can ameliorate them (take courses, connect with those who can help you overcome them, partner with people who can fill in your gaps). If they are not road blockers, just forget them and move on.

3. Do a comparative analysis of the skills and abilities you bring to your work. Try to determine how you are the same and what makes you different than your competitors. What gets you in the game – education, years of experience, similar skill sets – should be the same. What makes you different is a combination of what others think of you, special talents and skills you bring to your work, and the way in which you provide your service or do your job.

4. Develop an elevator pitch or personal branding statement that provides the listener with information on what you do, why you do it, what your differentiating qualities are, and the value you provide. You don’t have to be looking for a job or pitching a client to develop a strong personal branding statement or pitch. The reason you are doing this is so that you can “brand” this description into the minds of all you meet and already know.

5. Make sure your messaging is clear and consistent. Everyone should understand what you do and the value you provide. And it should be consistent for everyone you meet.

6. Always be on brand. Make sure that the work you do and the way you present yourself, on and off line are always on brand. It takes a great deal of time to build a reputation, to solidify your brand in other peoples’ minds. It takes considerably less time to destroy it.

Are there other ways you have in identifying your unique promise of value, your personal brand? We would love to hear about them.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years, Mary Rosenbaum helps entrepreneurs and careerists position themselves so they can stand out from the competition. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @careersguru