Could you convince someone to hire you in 60 seconds or less?

Many job seekers shudder at the thought of speaking about themselves professionally—especially when a strong first impression is important. Whether you’re at a networking event or just meeting an important person out of the blue, you need a short summary prepared to define yourself professionally and present a value proposition.

Selling yourself on command is no easy feat, but it’s completely necessary during your job search. Developing an elevator pitch will act as a conversation starter, while also conveying important professional details.

Take networking potential to a new level by utilizing these seven tips for creating a knockout elevator pitch:

1. Aim to start a conversation. During your elevator pitch, you only have a short amount of time to showcase yourself professionally. Rather than trying to cram in your entire resume, simply aim to start a conversation. This may take some practice, but your pitch should provide enough information to garner interest and lead into a conversation. Focus on being compelling and conversational, not just making a personal sale.

2. Be clear and concise. A long-winded pitch is nothing more than a one-sided conversation—which won’t impress anyone. This speech is called an elevator pitch for a reason, it must be brief and compelling. While you may be tooting your own horn, keep the listener in mind.

3. Highlight your accomplishments. Prepare for your elevator pitch by writing down all of your professional accomplishments. During your elevator pitch, you’ll want to focus on the actions of your accomplishments, rather than just stating where you’ve worked previously.

4. Avoid buzzwords and jargon. Rattling off showy buzzwords and corporate jargon is certain to annoy your listener. Stay away from those all-too-familiar terms when describing yourself professionally.

5. Stick with a theme. When preparing your elevator pitch, look through your accomplishments and see if there’s a strong theme. Finding your professional theme will allow you to more effectively convey your message. For example, if your accomplishments involve a lot of problem-solving, focus on showcasing this skill.

6. Practice makes perfect. Your elevator pitch shouldn’t sound like you’re reading a script. Memorization is essential to nailing your pitch, but practice will make you sound effortlessly conversational. Prepare your pitch—or pitches—and practice them until they’re seamless.

7. Know how to follow up. Your elevator pitch should just be the beginning of a beneficial conversation. You listener will likely have a few questions to ask you if you did your job right. Be sure you are able to continue the conversation and also be able to answer any questions thrown your way.

Creating a knockout elevator pitch involves concise and compelling storytelling, as well as practice. Solidify your pitch and take it for a test drive.

Have you had success with a unique elevator pitch? Share below!

Photo: David Noah/Flickr