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“So, What do you do?” – How to Nail Your Next Networking Opportunity

“So, What do you do?” – How to Nail Your Next Networking Opportunity

“So, what do you do?” An often used icebreaker when meeting someone for the first time, and a question that is exchanged at every networking event, is both reliable and expected. However, the correct answer could make your career.

An elevator pitch is a brief statement that defines you, your business, or your ambitions for next steps in your career. Its purpose is to attract potential employers or clients and stimulate discussion. The best way to communicate this statement is to create a narrative. Tell a story with a capturing beginning, meaningful middle, and insightful conclusion that allows the statement to easily flow into a conversation.

Even if you’re not in the job market, there is great value to having a prepared elevator pitch. This is your opportunity to establish a powerful and lasting impression into your network.

An excellent elevator pitch has several important elements.  Here are the keys:

Opening:  A meaningful opening sentence will achieve several key elements to an effective personal statement, most importantly their attention. Avoid clichés and instead, engage your audience.

Don’t say: “I’m the VP of Operations for a Tier 1 electro-mechanical company in East Noonecares.”

Do say: “I build world class components that keep 60% of commercial planes flying.”

Length: Keep it brief. An elevator pitch can be 30-60 seconds.  An average comfortable listener pace is 150 words per minute.  Therefore, you can include 75 to 150 words.  Write it out and use word count. Preparation and rehearsal will result in a more fluid interaction.

Clarity:  Ensure your statement is simple, easy to understand, and geared to the audience.  Imagine the listener knows nothing about you, your job, your life, or your company.  Write your pitch from the viewpoint of that listener.  No more than 4-6 individual thoughts.

Content: Focus on creating an organized, concise statement. Share your skills and discuss your goals.

Be Compelling:  Make the thoughts you share interesting, insightful, and meaningful.  Include one critical result or achievement you consider your signature.  Example: “I take very complex input from my clients and offer them solutions they haven’t seen yet themselves.” It is okay to brag just a bit, and just for this one signature sentence.

Differentiation:  Build in what makes you unique, different, or special, compared to your peers.

Presentation:  The art of the elevator pitch requires that you memorize your pitch script, then restate it naturally, and with complete enthusiasm.  More than just memorizing, remember that inflection is extremely important. Go beyond reciting and further draw your audience in with the cadence and tone of your pitch.

Reciting this statement can become repetitive and begin to sound over- rehearsed. Make sure your expression and body language are mirroring your listener. Know your audience, leverage your industry knowledge, and stay engaged.

Call to Action:  Create a sense of interest and motivation for future contact. “Based on my network and what your company does, I’m confident I can be a resource to you in the future, so hang on to my contact info.” Share your business card, be prepared to exchange contact information.

What not to do

Ramble: Practice makes perfect and give the person an opportunity to interject and respond.

Speak too Quickly: If your listener cannot understand you, your efforts were wasted for a poor impression.

Engaging a listener and capturing their attention is progressively more challenging in environments with a lot of potential distractions. Your elevator pitch must be strengthened, shortened, and tightened up to be effective.

As an example, here is the pitch we use:

BOB Search is the aerospace and defense executive search firm. We are the partners for businesses across the country for their executive search and talent management needs.

With 40 years of expertise, we utilize precision and a strong reputation within the industry to bring you leaders that will improve your business and your company’s bottom line.

Our record is impressive, with 75% of our business is repeat business from satisfied clients and their referrals.