4.2 Networking and ‘elevator pitches’
‘Networking’ is a process of human interaction that aims to increase your number of social or professional contacts. Once established, these contacts may help you in numerous ways.
Networking events are formally arranged by many organisations but networking can also happen spontaneously when you meet someone in an informal environment, such as the school that your child attends, your book club or a training event.
Whether you are networking formally or informally it is useful to prepare a few lines to say about yourself, for example if someone asks what you do. This is often called an ‘elevator pitch’.
An elevator pitch is a short summary of yourself, focusing on what you would like the other person to know. As the term suggests, the delivery of this ‘pitch’ takes the same amount of time as a short journey in a lift or elevator. Remember that it should be brief and informative.
As with many of the communication techniques already covered, your elevator pitch should be relevant to your audience.
Activity 3 Create your own elevator pitch
Watch the following video of three different elevator pitches.
In the box below, summarise your opinion of each of these pitches and choose the one that you like the best.
Now have a go at writing your own elevator pitch. You could model it on the one you like the best in the video or do something else. Think about the following:
Duration: Around 30 seconds long.
Message: What information would you like to communicate?
Keep it engaging: How will you explain what you do in an interesting way that keeps the person’s interest?
Do not worry if your pitch is initially too long. It is important to have a starting point and you can always edit it down. If you really struggle to make it shorter, ask a friend or colleague to help you. A good tip would be to record yourself on your phone and ask them to watch you.
Watch the following video to see how our three volunteers found the creation process.
Once you have created your pitch, practise it in front of the mirror so it doesn’t sound strange when you say it out loud!
Other useful networking tips include:
- Practising your networking skills is really valuable. Striking up conversations with strangers may be outside of your comfort zone, but if you practise and use this skill you never know when it will pay off.
- If you are attending a formal networking event, try to have a plan. Give yourself a target for the number of contacts you would like to make. Try to find out who will be attending and decide if there are specific individuals that you would like to meet. Remember that even if the people you meet can’t help you directly, they might be able to introduce you to someone who can.