Networking with Confidence: Elevator Pitches

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You may have heard of the term “elevator pitch,” but you might not know what it is and why it’s important to have one, especially as a graduate student.

Elevator pitches are quick introductions about yourself, your strengths, your knowledge, expressing interest in a topic, and asking a question to gain more information on the topic of interest. The idea is that it is short enough to network with someone if you were in an elevator with them, so around 30 to 60 seconds. You should be able to express all of this information by the time the elevator reaches the next floor (unless the elevator gets stuck, in which case you might have a few extra minutes, but don’t plan on that!)

You might be thinking, “Okay, but I don’t see myself doing much networking in an elevator.” Elevator pitches can be used in a bunch of other situations, like at conferences, networking events, career fairs, and even in emails. Have you ever been at a networking session and felt a feeling of dread when people get up to talk to each other because you don’t know what to say? Have you ever been to a conference and been star-struck by a researcher that you really respect, but don’t know how to introduce yourself and talk about your projects? If you have an elevator pitch ready to go, then you don’t have to worry about thinking of something to say.

So, what exactly should be in an elevator pitch? You should have:

  • A short introduction about who you are
  • A statement of your strengths or skills with an example
  • A statement of your knowledge with an example
  • Mention something that you are intensely interested in that is professionally relevant
  • A question to ask the listener to get more information or advice

Remember, your entire pitch should be 30-60 seconds in duration! Once you create your elevator pitch, you will be ready to initiate networking conversations with confidence!


By Kalle Nelson
Kalle Nelson Graduate Assistant