A quick speech about yourself and background to put simply, why the elevator pitch? The pitch should be about as long as the duration of an elevator ride. I suppose this is when this comes in handy…
Do you know the feeling towards the end of the day that you were very busy all day long but as if you didn’t get anything done? Or when a client calls you, are you taken by surprise and don’t know what to say? If yes, then this article is for you. The following 5 hacks are based on my personal experience and they help me to be more time-efficient.
1. Tell a story (elevator pitch)
A good way to practice is to tell friends. You don’t even have to tell them that you want to practice your elevator pitch, just use it the next time when they ask you again what you were actually doing. As an interpreter for English, I’m for example often asked whether I would still have a future with English as nowadays and in the future even more so, supposedly everybody would speak English. In the past it might have hit a sensitive nerve, but nowadays I’m actually happy about those kinds of comments because I can explain them exactly what I do and why interpreters for English will always be needed.
Knowing your elevator pitch by heart also helps you when called by surprise. Maybe an agency found your contact online and calls you out of nowhere. Ad-hoc you have to be sharp-minded. Without having to think how you can present yourself all over again, you sound professional and stay calm.
2. Prepare email templates
With your story (elevator pitch), you can prepare email templates for yourself. For example, you will probably designate a full or half a day for your client acquisition. And then, you don’t want to come up with what to write them all over again. You just want to contact as many companies as possible in the same highly professionally manner. With the elevator pitch, you can pre-write what used to be the motivation letter in times of paper. Once knowing what companies to contact, you simply customize the template accordingly.
By that, I mean that it’s important that they recognise that you know what they are doing and are not just sending the same application email to everybody. The template is to help you write your email quicker, it is not to replace the step of individualising the text. For example, when I write to medicine companies, I focus on my specialisation in medicine. When I write to other types of companies, I’d focus on other points and e.g. mention later that I have experience also in medical interpretation.
3. Be friendly
This concerns phones calls when you don’t know the number but think it could be somebody you don’t want to talk to, e.g. a call centre asking you to take part in a survey or trying to sell you the next electricity contract.
Not long ago, when I was spending a few days in England I received a phone call from a German number that looked like it could be a call centre — on top of that I was just shopping in a supermarket. Nevertheless, I told myself to pick up the phone. Even worse, the person on the other line asked me whether I had a spare few minutes — more sounding like a call centre wanting to sell me some security equipment for my house. I was honest, saying I was shopping and asking politely what it was about — instead of saying no and ending the conversation. It turned out to be a job offer! Right away, I could use my elevator pitch and within a few minutes, I had a new client!
The message is to always stay friendly and don’t decline right away because a job could be waiting for you. (By the way, I also recommend staying friendly when not wanting to talk to the person; after all, you don’t know how many people had already harshly hung up on them before.)
4. Have integrity
What do I mean by integrity? — Only do things after which you can still look into the mirror and you can sleep with. It’s like answering the phone or texting while driving. You know you it’s not right, but maybe, if just one second, nothing will happen and nobody will notice. Well, we know where that goes.
To give you a personal example: I had said yes to a short interpreting job of about 4 hours. Then I received an enquiry from another client asking me for 3 full days — so much more money. Unfortunately, the other short job was right in the middle of it. I told them my availability and that I was blocked for that half day. I detailed out my availability out of politeness (again, always be polite!) because I really thought that there is no way, I’d get it. To be frank, for a fracture of a second, I had considered whether there was any way, I could get out of the half-day job. But I figured, no, creating hassle for the other client is just not worth it. I had said yes, and I’ll stick to it. I knew I’d just feel bad every time I’d see the client again knowing that I had let them down.
Long story short: I also got the other job! I couldn’t believe it. Not only, did I feel better about myself not letting down the first client, I also felt great about equally being honest to the second client. After all, they then also know that I’ll do the same for them, not letting them down for a better job. They showed their appreciation about this point by adjusting to my time table. I realised I had killed two birds with one stone!
5. Be aware of the 80/20 rule
You might have heard of this one already: With 20% of your energy, you already get 80% done. Stop being a perfectionist and start working on the project you dream of instead of overthinking it. The reason is that the rule also works the other way around, we ‘waste’ 80% of our time and energy to get the last 20% done. When you doubt yourself, just do it anyway — and possibly set yourself a time limit. You’ll be amazed at how much you achieved.
In a nutshell, tell your story shortly and in an engaging way, prepare email templates, be friendly, keep the 80/20 rule in mind and always act with integrity. If you apply these hacks consistently, your freelance life will change for the better!
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