Your 30-Second Commercial

Using a “Professional Sound Bite” to Introduce Yourself

Let’s face it. Nobody has time today to listen to your story. They are too busy working their time-saving gadgets and surfing the web to even read the newspaper. To most people, the sound bite IS the whole story. It’s all about headlines and synopses. “Just give me the highlights!”

Your challenge is to make your "elevator pitch" non-commercial in tone and flowing naturally into a conversation rather than sounding rote or mechanical.

You Need More Than One "Soundbite."

There are places, in fact, where you have only 3 seconds. Your professional headline on your LinkedIn signature or even your email signature line are two examples of places to “brand” yourself. Your business cards and stationery are also good places for a tag line.

There are also occasions where you will have 60 seconds or more to talk about what you do. And you definitely want to be prepared to do that comfortably. It's probably appropriate that we make it clear that we DO NOT like 30-second commercials in one-on-one conversations or even if used in a small, informal group.

But, some variation of the 30-Second Commercial is what you will use most often in your networking activities where you're introducing yourself in a formal group setting, such as a chamber of commerce meeting, etc. Pique their interest.

This is One of The Most Important Ways of Building Your Referral Network.

At a business meeting or impromptu meeting you have about 30 seconds at most to grab someone’s attention (notice we didn’t say, “full attention”) and pique their interest in you enough to really notice who you are. What you say in that brief interlude needs to be clear, catchy and compelling. Oh yes, it also needs to be true and relevant to the person and circumstance in which you deliver it.

People have No Time or Patience for a Lengthy Introduction.

You must be able to deliver your 30-Second Commercial in an engaging, conversational manner. Within the 30-second time limit you must convey

1. Who you are,

2. What you do, and

3. How that will benefit the listener or someone they know.

This 30-Second Commercial is often referred to as an "Executive Sound Bite," an “Elevator Pitch” or a “Verbal Business Card.” Whatever you call it, just because it is short and catchy doesn’t mean it is easy to come by. As a famous writer once said, I can write a long letter in an hour or two. A short letter takes much longer.

We’re reminded of one young “techie” who rehearsed his elevator pitch, honed it down to 22 seconds and recorded it on his iPod. Whenever someone was gracious enough to inquire about what he did, he would whip out the iPod and play his pitch for them.

Entertaining? Yes. But, he missed the point and rarely made personal connections that might have helped him more quickly achieve his goals. Worse yet, many people found it discourteous and closed the conversation. As you rehearse and hone your introductory pitch, you might want to keep something in mind: You don't have to use an iPod to sound like a recording. Keep it "human" and conversational.

A Successful Executive Job Search is A People Business.

If you are going to find that great new position that is somewhere out there in the vast “hidden job market,” you are going to have to make real connections with people. Hit and run tactics simply won’t do. People have to like you, respect you and want to help you. If they don’t feel you care about them, you aren’t likely to get even 10 seconds of genuine attention. But, this is getting into the philosophy and mechanics of Power Networking.

Do you consider yourself an "accomplished networker?" Networking is a dynamic skillset, one that gets stronger the more you practice. Some people have a natural aptitude for networking, but very few people are born with all the skills required. If you want to improve your networking, a good place to start is with The Marketing Machine® Professional Networking Guide.

So how do you build your 30-second commercial? Or, perhaps we should think in terms of a medley of commercials or sound bites that are tailored to a variety of situations or professional gatherings. Often changing only a word or two will make your message more relevant to a different audience while keeping the essence of what you do intact.

Start With Your Accomplishments Library.

As with just about everything in the Executive Job Search Process, the better job you do in compiling your Accomplishments, the more substance you will be able to provide to your Core Competencies and Qualification Statements . . . which will make it much easier to produce catchy, relevant elevator pitches in 10, 15 and 30-second versions.

Use the worksheet below to get started. Your challenge is to complete each section, have it follow naturally from the section above, and be able to say it all in 30 seconds.

30-Second Commercial Worksheet

Introduction: Who I Am

What I Do

Who I Do It For (Give an example)

What I’m Looking For

Again, Who I am


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