As director of corporate relations and outreach for the University of Nevada, Reno’s College of Business, part of Jim McClenahan’s responsibilities is connecting graduates with employment.
When students come to him for advice on looking for jobs, one thing he encourages them to do is come up with a perfect elevator pitch to a potential employer. An elevator pitch is defined as a short pitch to promote a product or service or, in this case, a person. The term elevator comes from the concept of giving such a sales pitch to someone during a short elevator ride.
McClenahan feels the best elevator pitches are all about authenticity.
“The key is to focus a pitch on what’s special about you and how you can help others,” he told the audience at Northern Nevada Business Weekly’s Breakfast & Business event July 6 at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa.
“As people, I think we crave authenticity from others,” he said.
About 170 business people attended the Breakfast & Business event, a monthly series hosted by the NNBW, including the 25 participants in the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. The fellowship is currently being hosted by UNR’s College of Business for a six-week academic and leadership institute. The young leaders attended the Breakfast & Business event as an opportunity to network with business leaders in the Reno region as well as hear McClenahan’s tips on creating a compelling elevator pitch.
Students at the College of Business’s communications classes are required to attend networking events as part of its curriculum, McClenahan said. He admitted it can be an intimidating experience, especially when attending an event for the first time.
“When I’m in an environment where I don’t know a soul, my goal is to meet one person at a time and maybe build a relationship that way,” McClenahan said. “Once you focus on one person at a time, suddenly that anxiety becomes much easier (to handle).”
Social media is another avenue for networking possibilities. McClenahan insists LinkedIn is the best networking platform for working professionals.
“As professionals, I want all our students, working professionals, retirees to be on LinkedIn,” he told the crowd. “I can go to a networking event, but that’s only limited to northern Nevada, but on LinkedIn I can chat with people all over the world. Through LinkedIn we can broaden our network of relationships.”
He added that 500 million people use LinkedIn and 86 percent of Fortune 500 companies utilize the site for recruiting purposes.
McClenahan gave an example of how a good elevator pitch and networking on LinkedIn help a former UNR student land a job after graduation. She was a student employee at the IT department at UNR and established a LinkedIn accounted. In her profile she highlighted that she had taken some computer coding classes at UNR.
In turn, Bombora, a New York based business-to-business marketing company that had opened a Reno office and were looking to fill coding positions. They came across her profile on LinkedIn. Even though she didn’t exactly fit what they were looking for they still brought her in for an interview because of the pitch and ultimately hired her as a software engineer.
“If she had seen that job (on regular job posts), she would never had applied for it and if Bombora had looked at (recruiting) traditionally they never would have hired her,” McClenahan said.