In almost all aspects of life; work, school, dating – you need to be able to pitch yourself. Interviewing for a job? Pushing for better opportunities in the one you have? Or what about getting a professor to write you a recommendation letter? And let’s not forget the first date or two – convincing someone you’re what they’ve been looking for is hard.
I’ve been in all of these situations and below is what I’ve learned so far about how to pitch yourself:
You have to be your own best advocate.
No one is going to be a better spokesperson for your needs and wants than you, and most likely no one else will do it anyways. The most important part of pitching yourself is having enough tenacity to actually say what’s on your mind.
Get to the point.
When you do find the courage to speak up, don’t keep your audience captive. People are less likely to give you what you want if they feel like you’re droning on.
Going along with the previous point, know exactly what you want before you start the conversation.
This will make the person you’re appealing to feel like you’re using their time well and you’re less likely to walk away without what you want. If you don’t know what you want, no one can give it to you.
Tell a story.
People like feeling they’ve gone on a mini journey with you, it makes them able to identify with you more. When they see something of themselves in you, they’re more likely to give you what you want. Adding context is also important to explain why what you’re asking for is reasonable.
Know your brand.
Try to narrow down the things you like the best about yourself and then push that forward when it comes down to pitching yourself. I really like the way journalist Susannah Breslin talks about this. She writes, “Think of “you” as a superhero version of yourself. Make a list of your best qualities. Dress the way SuperYou would dress. Talk the way SuperYou would talk. Be SuperYou. Role play. It’s a part. Experiment. This is play.” But with this being said, it’s important to base “SuperYou” on qualities that already make up who you are. Don’t make up the personality you wish you had or you’ll come across as disingenuous.
Know who you’re talking to.
The way you sell yourself should shift depending on your audience. So especially in a job context, know the background of a company. If it’s edgier, like VICE Media, you should pursue the opportunity to showcase your personality. But if it’s a more traditional company, this is where it can be wise to pull back a little and focus on your concrete skills more.
Pitching yourself is scary. I personally don’t feel natural telling someone why I’m so great. In an ideal world, they’d find that out for themselves right? But considering people’s very limited attention span – this isn’t realistic. So recording yourself practicing your pitch is a good way to reassure yourself before the big ask if you’re really nervous. You’ll be able to see where you’re not realizing you’re saying “like” or “umm” too much. These little things make a big difference.
Be persistent as hell.
It’s totally normal to get rejected. Every successful or happily coupled up person had to be rejected far more than once to end up where they are now. Plus, often, people will recommend you for things simply because you’re on their radar. And here’s the thing, no one cares if you get rejected other than you. It might hurt your ego, but it’s not what people keep on file to remember you by.