The Elevator Pitch & Social Media Etiquette

 I recently asked Facebook followers, “Do you have an elevator pitch?”  Nancy Collamer, author Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement, describes an elevator pitch as “the 30-second speech that summarizes who you are, what you do, and why you’d be the perfect candidate,” employee, customer, or client. I looked forward to reading a rainbow of creative summaries that reflected how different people in different careers promoted themselves and their businesses. I was surprised by the responses … more stunned than surprised.

Jane Doe (an anonymous name) announced she was CEO of a large corporation and an employment coach who successfully launched clients into new careers. She corrected my use of the term, elevator pitch, and insisted I should call it a strategic statement. She defined her terminology, strategic tips, and provided links to articles she wrote on her website. Jane critiqued the elevator pit… correction … strategic statements that were left by previous followers. She provided her contact information and offered assistance to those who wanted to learn how to rewrite their elevator pitches into more eloquent statements.

Jane may offer superior employment coaching support. However, I believe self-promotion on someone else’s social media page, wall, or website is a boundary violation that erodes trust and weakens opportunities to build relationships with others. For better or for worse, when an individual uses someone else’s social media page to advertise their business, I believe they are more interested in drawing attention to themselves than in building a relationship. I delete their posts and block them from posting on my page again. However, when someone requests permission to respond to a post with a link to their blog or website, I happily consent and welcome the dialogue.

“You can use social media for marketing and you can increase your sales figures from it, but it can’t be your focus 100% of the time,” explains Nellie Akalp, CEO of “As a general rule of thumb, only 5% to 10% of your social media activity (i.e. status updates or tweets) should be self-promotional.” She also explains, “Social media is all about building relationships and growing trust. This means answering questions, providing helpful information, and serving as a trusted resource.”

In a 2012 Small Business Social Media survey, 79% of the respondents stated that they used Facebook for personal use; only 22% of the respondents used Facebook for business. Although I regularly post questions, comments, and quotations related to vision, mission, and goal-setting strategies on Facebook, I do not self-promote on other people’s websites and social media pages by advertising my business without their expressed written permission.

I admit that promotional restraint was something I had to learn. Although I have been a speaker and workshop presenter for many years, I dived into the social media pool a few short years ago with little experience. I learned social media etiquette by watching and learning from social media experts and mentors whose opinions I value. As a result, I became less concerned about attracting business and more concerned about posting meaningful content and sharing in ways that reflected my core values.

A good elevator pitch answers three questions: (1) Who are you? (2) What do you do? (3) Who do you do it for? A good elevator pitch also invites others into mutual relationships. I show people who want to pursue their dreams how to define their purpose, align their vision with their core values, and create tangible goals.

Nancy Collamer states, “You should be able to reel off your elevator pitch at any time, from a job interview to a cocktail party conversation with someone who might be able to help you land a position.” Use these tips to guide you as you consider an elevator speech that works best for you:

1. Clarify your target audience. Try to find the best way to describe your job and the people you hope to serve.

2. Put it on paper. Write down everything want others to know about your skills, accomplishments, and work experiences. Mercilessly delete everything that is not critical and relevant to your pitch.

3. Format it.  Condense your unique proposition, special skills, and specific ways you can help a potential employer or client in 15 seconds or less.

4. Tailor the pitch to them, not you. It is important to remember that, while you are delivering your elevator pitch, your listeners are wondering, “What’s in it for me?” Focus your message on their needs. Nancy adds, “Using benefit-focused terminology will help convince [your listener] that you have the experience, savvy and skills to get the job done.”

5. Eliminate industry jargon. Compose your pitch with words that are easy to understand. Avoid using acronyms and tech-speak that the average person will fail to comprehend.

6. Practice your speech. Rehearse your pitch in front of a mirror. Record and listen to your pitch. Solicit feedback from others. The more you practice, the smoother your delivery will be.

7. Nail it with confidence. The best-worded elevator pitch will fall flat unless it is conveyed well. When you give the speech, look the person in the eye, smile, and deliver your message with a confident delivery.

A good elevator pitch, like any conversation, invites a deeper relationship. When someone intrigues me and, more importantly, expresses interest in my needs, I want to hear more. I want to continue the conversation outside of the elevator. An individual with a good elevator pitch engages me with strong body language that reflects interest and enthusiasm. An individual with a good elevator pitch invites me to model their example. I want to pay it forward.

Do you have an effective elevator speech?  What tips would you like to share with others?

Photo Credit: Evan Leeson


On October 14, 2013, posted in: Blog by

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