I decided to round off my six-month mentorship with a session on designing an elevator pitch, not just for my mentee, but also for myself.
Whenever I work on something I have no knowledge of, I always jot down my own ideas before searching for the best solution online. This way, I may avoid following the status quo + may end up innovating. So, the following is our take on a personal elevator pitch. It is a simple + obvious concept, yet it is something that most of us never think about despite its usefulness. Have you prepared yours? You never know who you will bump in to or where you may need to introduce yourself on the spot...
First 10 seconds: Why them?
Why are you talking to this person? Did they do something interesting that made them known to you? Are they someone you need to impress?
Middle 10 seconds: Why you?
Why should they remember you after this conversation? Why should they continue the conversation? Don't forget to mention your name and job title too!
Last 10 seconds: What now?
What was the point of making this connection? Would you like to work with them in the future? Would you like their help with something?
The following is an example of how this might go in academia. Let's say I bumped in to a professor from my department in an elevator.
"Hello Prof. XYZ! I saw you on the news the other day talking about AI in healthcare. I am actually working on algorithm design with Prof. ABC + studying machine learning at the moment. I wonder if I could have 15 minutes of your time next week to ask you some questions I had on the research you mentioned on the news."
(Notice how I name dropped Prof. ABC - this is another excellent way to make yourself memorable.)
What about something more general? Let's say I am at a bioinformatics networking event + everyone is going round the room introducing themselves.
"Hi everyone, my name is Fatima + I am in the final year of my PhD in string algorithm design for molecular sequence analysis. If anyone is interested in or works in this area of research and would like to collaborate, please come and speak to me afterwards!"
(Notice how I skipped the how me? sentence but I ensured that it affected my whole pitch i.e. my pitch was tailored to this audience + I altered the description of my research area to be more specific and relevant. Also, notice that I stated I am in my final year. So, in the end, when I state I am looking for collaborators, I am also looking for postdoctoral/job opportunities without explicitly stating so. Luckily yet unfortunately, being memorable in this kind of scenario is inevitable - I am usually the only brown girl in the room!)