our little pitch

We spend so much time trying to pitch. Whether you like it or not, we are pitching. Selling an idea, trying to get a job, trying to convince our significant others to buy a gadget…we are pitching.

I have so many students asking me and sending my questions, wondering why people are not hiring, people are not buying, just plain not accepting their pitch. But why? Economics and supply/demand tell us that this is one hell of a competitive market. We have to be on our “A” game. We better have all of our “i’s” dotted and “t’s” crossed…we better dress for success and make sure we can sell ourselves. We must make sure we position ourselves as “thought leaders” with a piece of differentiation that makes us rise to the top. But does this really make us relevant?

why pitch?
I have been thinking through this little “elevator pitch” concept. Get it down in 60 seconds so if we are trapped in an elevator with that one person…they might be interested and buy what we are selling. We are selling…selling…pushing…selling…pushing….CREATING NOISE! Why? Because we are conditioned.

During NetworkBash Excite at Clemson University, my friend Robbin Phillips took the time to talk about the relevance of Social Media in the job search today. She shared a piece of paper with some notes…her “Sixty Second Speech.” The first line:

“Let your passion shine. Share who you are and what you stand for with the world. Your hopes, your dreams, your life. Then like magic, you’re going to start drawing kindred spirits and like minds towards you.”

what are we seeking?
Hmm…why are we selling what we are not passionate about? Why are seeking jobs that are just jobs, not careers. Why are we not chasing the dreams, finding like minded people like our tomorrow is our last? Why are we pushing our stuff instead of learning more about the people we share a common interest. Why are we not trying to create our lasting legacy?

Each time we spend more time selling and less time learning about the people that might have a common interest…it is like cold calling at 7pm when the person answering is having dinner. It is like we did not take the time to do the research and put the “To Whom It May Concern” at the top of the letter.

So what is your story? Now think…who are the people we are trying to connect with daily? What is their story? How do you know you can help them until you know their story? I am just as much a victim to this un-human approach to connecting.

my little confession…
Over a year ago, I went to a conference in North Carolina. When I walked in, they gave me a great list of all the people that attended and their email address. These people were decision makers. So when I got back from the conference…I defaulted to my old way of thinking. Created a boiler-plate email, changed out the name and email address, and off to the races. I sent out about five emails…but I had a slight twinge in the back of my mind that just did not settle well. It was confirmed in about five minutes. A response that indicated that they did not attend at the last second. I was embarrassed. NEVER AGAIN!

It is about people…STUPID! I am talking to myself.

Next time…I will just call, say hello, introduce myself, and ask to take them out to coffee…then LISTEN.

Below is Robbin Phillips’s little paper called “My Sixty second speech.” Enjoy!

My 60 Second Pitch

Teaching is fun…especially when NetworkBash is involved!

I have a few passions in my life, my lovely wife, my family, teaching, and telling stories. The semester is about to begin at Clemson and I teach Business Writing. It is listed by the registrar as English 304 and housed in the Department of English as an Advanced Writing class. This is actually kind-of funny, I enjoying writing…creating a story that resonates with an audience. But I am not the most technically/grammatically proficient when it comes to articulating my thoughts. I get emails all the time from people reading my blog criticizing the way I write. Well…I write in an conversational tone, mainly as a stream of consciousness. I write to articulate my passion…passion is the key word.

Regardless…I am getting excited. Extremely excited. The semester is getting ready to begin. I get to put away business twice a week, and work with the next wave entrepreneurs. ENGL 304 is set-up to help students articulate thoughts and ideas using business communication to tackle the business world. If you look at the boiler-plate syllabus, we are supposed to teach students how to write proposals, memos, resumes, emails, etc. But…this ENGL 304 instructor will be working with students to learn how to use these tools to become business leaders. I am teaching how to become thought leaders and build business relationships using these tools.

My ENGL 304 class also has the sole responsibility to execute three events this semester,  NetworkBash 2010: Ignite, Excite, Engage! Three events strategically planned to allow students to build career relationships. Three events:

NetworkBash 2010
Ignite: September 8, 2010
Excite: October 6, 2010
Engage: November 4, 2010

Three events, three opportunities, three great ways for students of ENGL 304 to build a great connection point for other Clemson University students, engaging and having real conversations with potential employers. We have partners both financial and strategic. We work with the Michelin Career Center, Clemson Alumni Association, and the Advanced Writing Program. Our financial partners are to come, but last year we worked with the Consortium for Enterprise Systems Management, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, CH2M Hill, Immedion, and Tiger Properties.

So the point…each event will have an individual theme, bringing students and employers together to build relationships. Not to talk about a resume, but to learn more about each other, ultimately helping students learn the value of connections and relationships.

NetworkBash: Ignite (9/8/10) is designed to prepare students for the Career Fair put together by the Michelin Career Center on September 15, 2010. Students will interactively learn interview skills, how to pitch themselves, and ultimately how to get beyond the resume.

NetworkBash: Excite (10/6/10) is designed to allow students to learn how to use different Social Media techniques and technologies to build relationships.  This will be a discussion around different Social Media(s) and how they can help each of them open the door to career relationships.

NetworkBash: Engage (11/4/10) will be coordinated with the Clemson Alumni Association the Thursday before the NC State Football weekend. Alumni can can come into to town a day early (before the football game) and spend time with students networking, sharing how they built the relationships that helped them professionally.

The best part about these events, ENGL 304 students helped design and will help execute these events. They will use Business Writing as the fundamental technique to put on an event that ultimately will benefit their long-term goals.

This event was a product of a group of students in the Spring of 2009. One day I was teaching the class how to use Twitter to create a clear and concise elevator pitch (take their pitch and write it in 14 characters). One student looked at me and said, “this is great but I need to get a job and I am not sure how to get in front of the right person to use these skills.” So we decided to begin putting together an event where students and professionals could come together and network. Not just using the typical resume interaction, but really network and have a conversation that build a relationship. Here we are and this will be the third iteration of NetworkBash. I am excited! I am passionate…this is why I teach.

Facebook for Business –> Find a job as a college student

Yesterday, I sat in a planning session for NetworkBash Fall 2010 with a great group from the Michelin Career Center at Clemson University. As we sat and began planning the three sessions for this fall, we talked about the social media session in October and what seminars will be created. We talked a bit about Facebook for a few minutes and the do’s and don’ts. I mentioned a seminar idea of protecting information, not revealing unwanted pictures and information employers could take out of context. A few of the staff members used this as a seminar with a few students a few months ago, and there was an overwhelming consensus…students understand the privacy issues but what they wanted to know: how to connect and engage with employers using Facebook.

OK…so here are my thoughts:

  • Make a list of companies you wish to engage with, ones you want to hire you.
  • Use Facebook to see if these companies have a Facebook presence (Fan Page, Group, Etc.). Try to identify if it is a legitimate Facebook representation of the company or organization.
  • Once you find those companies, join the Group, Page, etc.
  • Watch the conversations in these groups and find updates that you can comment on that is not “intrusive.”
  • Look to see who else is a part of the Group or Page, and look over their profiles.
  • In those profiles, identify any people that might be working for company or organization. Also, look for the “Administrator” of the Group or Page and see if they work for this company or organization.
  • Send a “Friend Request” to the individuals that might work for the company or organization.
  • Continue to watch over this Group or Page and learn the language of the group and try to understand as much as possible: the purpose of the Group or Page, the initiatives of the company or organization, if they have events you can attend, and who are the people you need to establish a connection.
  • Once they accept they accept the “Friend Request,” try to engage in a conversation that could lead to an in-person meeting or on the phone conversation.
  • Do not use Facebook as a way to spam the employers with messages, but as a platform to engage in conversation that can lead to a meaningful relationship.