Networking is all about two things – talking and listening. Let’s focus on the talking part here.
You will find a lot of recommendations to stick with the 30 second “elevator pitch”,
but some people still get carried away talking about their life and achievements. It is important to find a middle ground between talking too little and talking too much. After all, networking is all about getting connected with the right people.
30 second elevator pitch is a brief introduction of yourself, your services and your business or your business. Imagine you are literally in an elevator with a decision-maker or a key person — what will you say? These are some points:
- It should be rehearsed but not forced;
- It should feel natural when you say it;
- Don’t talk too fast to fit more information;
- Be passionate about things you do, it shows when you talk about them.
The purpose of the elevator pitch is to spark the interest of your interlocutor and help continue conversation further. They should be sure that knowing you will be beneficial for them in some way. In networking, it’s not necessarily what they can do for you but what you can do for them and how you can be useful to your potential clients and partners.
Once you establish the mutual interest, don’t just walk away to a different table to continue throwing elevator pitches around like a parrot. Be sure to go a little deeper in the conversation and that’s where your story will shine.
This is already a higher level of networking. It is good to start with 2-3 stories that will show you as a great individual. It doesn’t have to be work-related or can be connected with another job you had before, or even a personal adventure you experienced. It must be catchy! If the person may not use your services in the future, at least they may be able to retail your story later to a more relevant person.
My favorite networking story takes me back to the time when I was a brand new concierge at fancy Hilton hotel. By “brand new” I mean “on my first week” new. I was very excited to be helping people, make reservations for them and sell them tickets to theme parks. Here comes this very old Indian lady and asks me where she can get a goodie bag. OMG PANIC! I don’t know what goodie bag even is, let alone where to find it. Ok, I am a concierge! I can do it. So I get her room number, send her off with the promise to call her back and go on a quest to find a mysterious goodie bag. I asked a front desk manager (it is a rule of thumb in the hotels: keep calm and ask front desk). So I learned that there is a big Indian wedding going on and the goodie bags are gifts to guests provided by the father of the bride Mr. Patel. Front desk is not dealing with any of that so they can’t help. So I just got a room number for Mr. Patel, went ahead and called him! I am naturally rather shy and I felt extremely uncomfortable calling the father of the bride on the big day. I made it brief when he picked up – congratulated on the event, mentioned the lady and gave him her room #. He said he will take care of it. In about an hour the lady came down all smiling and happy about getting a goodie bag after all the troubles and peace was restored.