Contrary to what many career pros might suggest – do not use your elevator pitch during networking. (Except of course, if you are at a pitchfest or a funding specific networking event)

Tips for Effective Networking

Here’s what meaningful networking is about:

  • Build goodwill, build professional relationships, connect with people you naturally like or just show genuine interest in knowing them.
  • Listen first – to be understood you must first understand. Focus on what the other person has to say – stop your mind from thinking on what to reply or talk about next – be in the moment.
  • Exchange ideas, exchange your contact information for follow-up and network online.
  • Take it easy, you don’t HAVE to meet 20 people or go through a check-list. Natural networking is least stressful and most productive.

No Elevator Pitch during Networking

Say NO to pushing an elevator pitch in your networking efforts, it is in your best interest of not coming off as a pesky networker at your next networking event.

And here’s why.

Networking is about building a relationship not shoving your expertise on to someone and moving on. Always note that when remembering someone people recall those they have met the most who they “liked” the most not the one who ranted out his/her incredible credentials making you look around on how to escape at the next word. Make yourself likable at such events don’t come across as a pompous or desperate job hunter.

This is also especially applicable to the new college graduates who are ready to prepare and push their one minute elevator pitch because that’s the way to go. Come on, there’s no ONE way to do things right or do it by any do-it-my-way written rule.

And especially for the introvert networkers this comes as good news. You don’t have to do what you don’t want to do and that makes networking more enjoyable.

Scott Allen is the coauthor of The Virtual Handshake and The Emergence of The Relationship Economy”, and currently the Web Strategist for PSI Seminars, the world’s oldest personal development seminar provider, offers some good tips and advice here:

I think it’s important to develop a concise and interesting way to describe
what you do. I hesitate to call that an elevator pitch, because “pitch”
implies “selling” to me. I, too, am put off by people who regurgitate that
15-second pitch by rote at the first sign of the “So what do you do?”

I do think people should have an elevator pitch, and those are great to use
to introduce yourself in a group setting, i.e., going around the room and
having everyone introduce yourself. But that is a broadcast, not a
conversation. But when you’re talking to people one-on-one, it can be a
turn-off – if you’re spending time thinking about when and how you’re going
to get your pitch in, you’re not truly engaged in the conversation.

The traditional elevator pitch is supposed to describe what you do and the
benefit of it. As my friend Bob Burg, author of the bestselling Endless
Referrals, says though – until they get to know you a little bit, why would
they even care about that?

Again, though, you should develop a way to describe yourself that’s a little
more interesting than a one-word description. For example:

  • “I’m a tile installer” or “I make beautiful bathrooms”?
  • “I’m a comedian” or “I make people laugh for a living”?
  • “I’m an exterminator” or “Everyone kills bugs – I get paid to”?
  • “I’m a commercial construction contractor” or “I build skyscrapers”?

Get away from the formulas – keep it short and sweet, but interesting and memorable. 10 words or less – 5 or less is even better.

Also, if your job title is non-obvious, be prepared to explain it, but don’t
immediately volunteer it. For example, when I say, “I’m the Entrepreneurs
Guide for,” I don’t immediately follow that with “I help
entrepreneurs start and grow their business by providing original articles,
online community and links to the best web retargets I can find.” But if
they go, “OK, but what do you do?”, then I offer the longer explanation.

Both the short description and the longer elevator pitch are tools to have
when you need them, but not things to formulaically push on people at the
first opportunity. Be engaged in the conversation. Talk about what’s interesting!


So when should I use my elevator pitch?

An interview is the best place when the interviewer already knows something about you and now you must tell them how clear you are in defining what you do. And also perhaps in an elevator when you don’t really care how you impress the person other than handing him/her over your biz card and a 10-30 second elevator pitch.


Question: When have you felt most comfortable at a networking event? What works and does not work for you?