pitches | networking | social media

Pitches

A sales or networking introduction is often called an elevator pitch. It is delivered quickly, in about the time it takes to ride an elevator with someone: 30-60 seconds. Sometimes that's as long as you get with an influential person. A pitch can be a social introduction at a networking event or a practiced sales pitch. Either way, a pitch helps you make a positive first impression, and the same guidelines apply.

Kathy McAfee, How to craft your 30 second elevator pitch or networking introduction (YouTube, 4:06)

 

Carmine Gallo, Message Map: How to pitch anything in 15 seconds (YouTube, 4:34)

Josh Light's winning elevator pitch (youtube_1:55)

3 Suggestions for Crafting a Strong Elevator Pitch

 

1. Share best features by focusing on benefits. If it's a product, what are the product's best features? If it's you, as a job candidate or client, what are your best features? And as you state these, focus on benefits language. In other words, how do the great features benefit others? How is the product--or you--going to solve problems for someone? Keep it simple. Only 1-3 best features, followed by a statement about positive outcomes/results.

 

Examples:

 

Instead of saying "I teach business communication classes" it's more effective to say "I teach students how to get jobs." 

 

Instead of saying "I write historical fiction novels" it's more effective to say, "I write stories of hope--stories of strong women overcoming adversity--in historical fiction settings.."

 

2. Share yourself. Share a story to illustrate a specific skill, strength, experience, or passion. Stories are memorable. The story doesn’t even have to be about you, it can be a life lesson, something a mentor shared, or something you observed that had an impact. Be genuine. Let people see the real you.

Examples: "I've been blessed to teach at the local women's prison." Or..."It was exciting to meet John Grisham."

 

3. Offer to help. If you really want to get someone’s attention, ask about them. Ask about their challenges and offer a solution. Ask about their skill set or their goals, then share yours. 

Examples: "You work at ___? Do you know ___?" Or..."Oh, you're an accounting professional? Do you hire interns? I always have great students looking for internships."

 

Maybe you don’t have the skills to meet their current needs but you know someone who does. Ask for their card, write a note on the back, then follow-up by connecting them to someone more skilled. You'll have a friend for life. Or, if you can’t help and don’t know anyone who can help, just say, “I genuinely wish I knew how to help.” The empathy alone will be refreshing. 

Kathy McAfee says you should end your pitch by saying, "And I'm looking to..." This gives you an opportunity to state your needs. "I'm looking to make connections in the health care industry." "My company is looking to expand in the Dallas/Fort Worth area." "I'm looking to hire." You never know where this might lead.

There's no need to memorize your elevator pitch. But the more you practice it, the more naturally it will roll off your tongue.

The 4 components of a compelling elevator pitch Michael Hyatt

Networking

Networking is the exchange of information or services among people or computers. Networking is about connection and relationships. Cultivating healthy relationships with others is important because it really is who you know.

70-80% of jobs come through networking.

Everyone you meet has some knowledge or personal connection that could do you good. The more you interact with people, especially in business settings specific to your career goals (conferences, workshops, etc.), and the more adept you are at asking great questions and making a positive impression, the more benefit you’ll receive.

The goal is to become a known entity. If I hire an unknown entity, my risk is high. If I hire someone I know or who has been recommended to me by others that I trust, I lower my risk and the chance of a good return is greater.

9 tips for navigating your first networking event (The Daily Muse)

Top 5 tips to successfully attend a networking event (Careerealism)

 

Give people a reason to want to help you.

10 Specific Networking Tips

  1. Go to business-related events, even if you’re an introvert.

    An introvert's guide to networking (HBR)
     

  2. If it's an option, get a copy of the guest list prior to the event and look folks up on LinkedIn. This will help you know their interests so you can ask great questions.
     

  3. Perfect your elevator pitch, then use it!
     

  4. Have business cards in your pocket. When exchanging them, write a note on the back to help you remember this person. You may meet several folks at the event and have trouble keeping them straight later.
     

  5. Dress to impress. Wear a signature piece (bold necklace, tie, pocket square, shoes, blouse, or jacket) to stand out and be memorable.
     

  6. Invite folks you meet to connect on LinkedIn following the event. (Or, if connected before, send a note prior: “Looking forward to meeting you.”)
     

  7. If there is someone you’re especially excited to meet, but nervous about it, talk to at least three other folks before you approach them. This will help you get your jitters out.
     

  8. Approach folks standing by themselves or with one other person rather than larger groups. Maintain strong eye contact. No one wants to feel like you’re just using him or her until the person you really want to talk to is free.
     

  9. When you’re ready to move on, say, “Bob, it was a pleasure to meet you.” That's the signal that you can each go meet someone else now. 
     

  10. Stay up on current events. You’ll always have something to talk about intelligently if you do. If your event is in a new city, it’s smart to read that day’s headline stories prior to attending the event, or current events in the cities of folks you want to meet and impress, or current news stories affecting that person’s business or industry (often found on the company’s website).
     

One of the best networking strategies a person can have is to join professional organizations in his or her field and be actively involved. Volunteering is another great way to network.
 

Networking is especially important in times of career transition. When you’re job-hunting, you want to stay top-of-mind. If you maintain relationships with mentors, faculty, and folks in your industry, they have a greater sense of investment in your success and will work more actively to connect you with opportunities.
 

Forget networking. How to be a connector (Entrepreneur)

Kim Riley, president of Hylant (Cincinnati), says the best advice she ever received from one of her mentors, Joe Scarlett of Tractor Supply and the Scarlett Leadership Institute (which merged with Franklin's Work Institute), was to never eat alone. She sets breakfast and lunch appointments each work day to cultivate relationships.
 

Keith Ferrazi offers this same advice in his book, Never Eat Alone. When Keith meets new people, he asks for their birthday and immediately enters it into his phone calendar. Each day he gets to the office early and calls everyone who has a birthday that day to sing them happy birthday. It’s a great way to cultivate relationships and make folks feel special.
 

Social Media

It is critical for the current job seeker to have a strong social media presence. LinkedIn has become a primary way to recruit talent, and is often the first way you make an impression on a potential employer.

4 Tips for a Strong LinkedIn Profile:

1. Use a high-quality profile picture that represents you as a professional. Make use of the horizontal background photo also. This could be a company header, an industry photo, you giving a presentation, a stack of the books you've written--anything that represents your skill set or personal brand.

 

10 tips for young professionals publishing on LinkedIn (Mike Mellazzo)
 

2. Consider the Influencers you follow. You have an opportunity to learn from industry leaders. Their posts will show in your feed when you follow them. Capitalize on this chance to learn from the best.
 

3. Add value. Share and re-share articles and posts that benefitted you and stand to benefit others. Create original content that offers high value to those in your network. 
 

What every college student should post on LinkedIn (Mashable)

Here's what I tell people when they ask how to crush it as a LinkedIn writer (Dan Roth)

4. Keep the tone and content professional. LinkedIn is a professional site. Potential employers on LinkedIn will assess whether your contributions are valuable to the industry in which you work.

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