WRITTEN BY: Forbes Coaches Council
Top business and career coaches from Forbes Coaches Council offer firsthand insights on leadership development & careers.
Networking is crucial for career building. There's a lot that rides on the good recommendations of others, from a simple reference on a resume to having your name passed on to an interested party who's looking for someone with exactly your skills. But networking is also challenging. Taking the wrong approach when meeting people can leave a negative impression, or worse — none at all.
Below, 11 experts from Forbes Coaches Council talk about what they see is key to a good networking pitch, including being concise, connecting emotions, doing research and demonstrating empathy. Here's what they advise:
1. Develop Your Elevator Pitch
Before networking events occur, take time to memorize and develop your elevator pitch. Be clear about the types of people you help and what you do for them. Understand your personal brand and what makes you unique and different, then share this in a positive way. Let the other person go first, and show genuine interest in what they have to say. Show genuine care and concern for others. - Rebecca Bosl, Dream Life Team
2. Do Your Homework
Before attending an event where you will meet new people, study the host organization, mission, board and members. This will help you build conversational rapport and avoid a situation where you seem to be "selling yourself" in an unsolicited pitch. Remember to be yourself and appeal to new acquaintances as "people first." - LaKisha Greenwade, Lucki Fit LLC
3. Listen More Than You Talk
Start by building and fostering relationships where you do more listening than talking. Learn about the needs of others, and identify ways to align yourself with their requirements. By demonstrating clear value, you won't need to conduct hard sales or pressuring networking tactics to get people to hear you out. Listening to learn puts others first, helping build trust to secure investments. - Adrienne Tom, Career Impressions
4. Find Commonalities Between You
Look for information about their work, or something you both care about. Bridge that to how meeting with you will benefit them. Commenting that you liked their article doesn't incentivize them to meet with you. Instead, say that you have published a similar article. A great pitch lies in finding the commonalities between you and creating a feeling of connection, even before you've met. - Jessica Sweet, Wishingwell Coaching
5. Be Relatable: It Makes You Interesting
Your pitch should strike interest in someone you meet to make them want to know more. Don't just tell them everything you do, ask them about what they do and weave what you do into the conversation. Don't talk about money. Focus on impact. Whatever you say should place you in the position to be remembered by the person you are connecting with. - Maleeka T. Hollaway, The Official Maleeka Group, LLC.
6. Share A Story That Triggers Emotions
While everyone else is busy sharing forgettable facts and figures in the same old snooze-worthy style, captivate your audience by sharing a relatable story that pulls at their emotions. Stories make people feel things. And given that 90% of purchases are based on emotions, the story-centered networking pitch always wins. - Stephanie Nivinskus, SizzleForce Marketing
7. Be Authentic
Be you, and be authentic. People can see fakeness from a mile away, and we all get turned off by it. In order to be authentic, notice all the things you say to yourself about who you should be and what a "successful professional" should say, do and want. Then, practice communicating an introduction versus a "pitch," without all those "shoulds." If you feel more alive and free, you are on the right track! - Susanne Biro, Susanne Biro & Associates Coaching Inc.
8. Have A Consistent Message
There have been so many times when I've met someone in person and been impressed, but then when I looked them up on LinkedIn, their brand did not align in both places. The key to a great pitch is to be consistent across all mediums, both in-person and digital. Start by identifying who you are and what your goals are, then build a consistent message that aligns with your identity and goals. - Brendan P. Keegan, velocityHUB
9. Be Specific
Be painfully specific about what you do, for whom you do it and why they like having it done for them. If you're not specific, people don't know how to connect with you or how to help you, let alone hire you! Most importantly, remember, as Mike Wien of the Specific Edge Institute says, "Specific does not mean exclusive." - David Taylor-Klaus, DTK Coaching
10. Offer A Call To Action
The key is in getting others to take action. Give something away for free that they value, so you can stay in touch and build value. It could be a free sample, a white paper, an ebook, a webinar, or an open house invitation. It's low risk for them and something that will add value to their lives. Once you've said your benefits-focused elevator speech, always end with a call to action. - Sandi Leyva, Sandra L Leyva Inc.
11. Have An Answer To The 'So What' Question
Reflect on your elevator pitch, and ask yourself what you would say if a person said "Sounds great, but so what?" Your ability to explain the bottom-line benefit or impact of your value proposition is key to crafting a pitch that connects all the dots so the reader will never ask "So what!" - Virginia Franco, Virginia Franco Resumes