This is part four of our weeklong series on networking. See all of the posts in this series.
Yesterday, we shared some strategies for easily incorporating informal networking into your life. Today, we’ll share some formal networking strategies you can use to build out your personal networking plan. When you’re actively searching for a job, you’ll need to step up your networking game, and these strategies can help.
Craft the perfect elevator pitch.
An elevator pitch is a short, persuasive statement of your skills and attributes that you can use in a variety of networking contexts. There’s lots of great advice out there about how to craft the perfect elevator pitch. We can sum up our top tips in three words: specific, tailored, and practiced.
- Specific: In addition to being specific about who you are and what you offer, your elevator pitch should include the specific outcome you’re looking for, whether it’s an informational interview, new contacts, job leads, or advice.
- Tailored: You should be able to adjust your elevator pitch to match the situation at hand. The terminology you use, the specific outcome, and even the content of your spiel should be tailored to your audience. Additionally, don’t just think in terms of what you offer but also how the listener would benefit from what you’re offering and incorporate that into your pitch.
- Practiced: It might feel silly, but rehearsing your pitch can help you sound more natural when the time comes to quickly make an impression in real life. We recommend writing it out first, then practicing aloud until you have a good handle on it.
A bonus word would be brief. Aim for 45 seconds, because most people don’t have the bandwidth to listen for much longer than that! Harvard Business School has a pitch builder to help you get started.
Get in some elevators.
Once you’ve got your elevator pitch down (and several variations in your back pocket), you’ll need to get yourself in the position to actually use it. Here’s how to make sure your elevator pitch gets a workout:
- Attend relevant conferences and events. These can be great learning and skill-building opportunities as well, but much of the value from conferences and events come from the networking that happens in between sessions. Check out our series of how to make the most of conferences before, during, and after.
- Join a professional association. Whether you’re a grant writer, human resource manager, nonprofit marketer, teacher, or just about anything else, there’s probably a professional association for networking with others in your field. These professional associations typically offer a newsletter and lots of resources, as well as hosting networking events. Considering joining both local and national groups, and take advantage of everything they have to offer. NYU Wagner has a great list of professional associations to explore.
- Conduct informational interviews. Informational interviews are brief conversations with people more established in your field. Learn everything you need to know about them here.
So far in this series, we’ve discussed the importance of networking, how to identify who’s in your network, and both informal and formal strategies. Check back tomorrow for the final installment which will include tips for activating your network when you need it most, while keeping your network strong.