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Advice / Job Search / Networking

4 Messages You Need to Know (and Nail) to Pitch Yourself

Raise your hand if you’d rather stand on stage in front 300 people and talk about your favorite iPhone app than put together a document about the amazingness of you.

Chances are, most of you have a hand raised, and here’s why: Pitching yourself is hard. And figuring out how to talk about yourself in a way that's both authentic and successful? Even harder.

I recently spoke to a woman who asked me, “I get that I need messaging for my business, and I understand what that should look like. But what do I need to talk about myself?”

It made me realize that while there are endless messaging frameworks available to mix and match for corporate branding, there isn’t much guidance in the way of personal branding.

So, whether you’re prepping for a job interview, pitching yourself for a side project, getting ready for a networking event, or simply figuring out how to talk about yourself outside of your immediate friends and family, here are four messages you should explore and get ready to nail.

1. Your One Sentence

In the corporate world, we call this your elevator pitch. You should be able to answer the questions “Who are you?” and “What do you do?” in a way that’s relevant and exciting to whoever you’re talking to and in one sentence.

To prepare your one sentence, I suggest making a list of all the things you are and do (it may feel silly, but I promise it’s helpful!). For example, you might write:

  • Baker for 10 years
  • Graduate of the Culinary Institute
  • Bread-making enthusiast
  • Guest writer for Bon Appétit
  • Volunteer cooking teacher for kids
  • Wife
  • Mom
  • Gardener

Then, depending on the situation, you can decide which pieces to string together to make your one sentence as relevant and compelling as possible.

2. Your Story

What are the defining moments and experiences of your life that got you where you are today and interested in doing the work that you’re pitching yourself for?

For example, let’s say you’re preparing for an interview as a coder. Was there a moment you realized there weren’t many women coders in the world and decided you wanted to change that? Did you grow up speaking several languages and then take a coding class in college that made you see code as simply another language to crack? Did you spend the last 10 years in marketing and then, after picking up your husband’s coding book one night, fall in love with this new-to-you concept?

We often rely on our credentials to tell our story, when really, those only tell part of it. So, fill in the rest of the story. Let whoever you’re talking to get to know your personality, your unique experiences, and your motivations. Unless you’re a convict or a total jerk, sharing your story is only going to move you up the list of candidates.

3. Your “Why?”

No matter who you’re promoting yourself to, any good interviewer will ask some version of the same question: “Why do you want to do this?”

And you probably have a pretty straightforward answer to it. But here’s where I recommend you take it a step further: How does your “why?” benefit the person you’re talking to? For example, if you were pitching yourself to be a guest blogger on a gluten-free food blog, you might come up with something along the lines of:

“I’ve been looking for opportunities to reach a wider audience interested in leading a gluten-free lifestyle and am a long-time reader and fan of Gluten Free Blog. On your blog, I see an opportunity to expand your coverage on dessert recipes, which is exactly what I write about and create for my own community.”

With this, you can clearly show the value you want to bring to this specific individual or company—which will make it that much easier for them to give you a “yes.”

4. Why You?

I want you to make a list (last one, I promise!) of all things you’re awesome at, the things people love you for, and the things you’re proud of. When you’re done, I want you to ask a few friends and family why they think you’d be great for the opportunity you’re chasing. Write their feedback down, too.

Once you’ve got all your awesomeness down in one place, pick out the pieces that feel the most relevant to whatever opportunity you’re currently going for. And then say them out loud as many times as you need to until you actually believe them.

Because here’s the thing about pitching yourself: If you don’t think you deserve it, no one else will, either. And of course you do! So, get the jeebies out however you need to, leave your humble at home, and tell your target audience who you are, why you’re there, and why you’re the best person for the job.

Photo of mirror courtesy of Shutterstock.

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