Last week, CNN did a networking/job search event in Washington, D.C. I went because I was hoping to pitch myself as an aviation expert for CNN on future stories. As such, I had a chance to watch as others chatted with the various CNN representatives at the event.
One thing that was glaringly apparent was that many job seekers did not have a good elevator pitch. Mine, at exactly 15 seconds, was simple and to the point -- I wasn't looking for a job, aviation is a big topic of interest to CNN, they needed to have some new -- and more diverse -- people speaking about the industry, and I could help with my expertise in business/corporate jet aviation, airports and airport security and the airlines, tossing in that I've also worked for 2 airlines and an engine manufacturer. I gave them my card, asked for theirs, thanked them for their time and moved onto the next person. Using this method, I was able to get 10 business cards.
But it wasn't easy. The format of the networking was people sprinkled across the room and you ran up to a person with a CNN name tag. The process was a bit chaotic, and it didn't help when people used the time to either tell their life story or drag on about what CNN needed. Had I been searching for a job, I would have visited the CNN job site -- TurnerJobs.com -- to see what openings were available to see what CNN was looking for before going to the event.
I then would have matched my current skills set to what they were looking for and created my elevator pitch around that. One person really stood out, because I kept seeing him say the same thing to every CNN person. He blathered on about how "I can do everything" and "I want to go where I can fit best" then peppered them with questions on exactly where the jobs were in CNN. He didn't seem to have a clue on exactly what he wanted to do. I saw variations of this scenario throughout the night.
These are busy people who know exactly what they need. One, they probably don't know exactly all the jobs available at CNN, and two, they should not be telling you what is available unless they are doing the hiring directly.
You never know when you're going to get that chance to pitch yourself, so you should have one ready. For tips on how to create the perfect elevator pitch, I recommend this post on the Harvard Business Publishing blog. Good luck!