How to create a powerful and memorable networking introduction
Many of my clients who embraced networking as a means to change careers or get ahead in their careers have not looked back. For many it was not an easy start – especially for those who are shy or uncomfortable with meeting new people – but with perseverance and practice, their confidence grew and through this approach, and over 95% were able to secure their next role through their network.
Whenever I ask my clients to articulate what has helped them to get ahead with networking, one of the key strategies mentioned is to have a clear networking introduction prepared and rehearsed. This is also referred to as a “networking pitch” or “elevator pitch” and the purpose of such an introduction is twofold:
- To engage the new contact and have them be curious to know more about you
- To help the new contact understand who you are, who you help and the value you create
The latter makes it easier for your new network to respond to any requests you make or to volunteer suggestions, ideas or leads for your career. It also helps them to introduce you to their own contacts that may be of interest to you.
For example, one of my recent clients, Ed, had recently completed his MBA and wanted to secure an operational or general manager role within the cloud software sector. He had worked as a civil engineer prior to his MBA
and was keen to show his existing and new network that he was capable of developing strategy and leading teams to deliver results. His networking introduction informed people that his previous experience of leading multi-million dollar and multi-discipline projects, coupled with his MBA education, allowed him to help software companies struggling to expand into new sectors and territories by identifying partnerships or entry-points into new markets. This led to many new contacts introducing him to interesting businesses fitting his profile and within 3 months, he had accepted an offer with a leading cloud-based CRM company.
The simple 5-step formula to create your own powerful and memorable networking introduction
- Start with a hook – this a short phrase which summarises what you offer as value. In Ed’s case, he stated: I help clouds to find new territory. This was intriguing for many people and would be a great way to keep the conversation going.
- Stop talking – allow the listener to process the hook and provide them with the opportunity to become invested in a conversation by asking you “what do you mean”?
- Describe your ideal employer or clients – who do you work with or want to work with? (This could be a sector, type of company or organisation or ideal clients – e.g. cloud software companies)
- Describe their pain or objective (in Ed’s case, they were struggling to expand sectors and territories)
- Describe the value or solution you can provide – ask yourself “What problem do I help them solve? What solution do I offer?” (e.g. secure partnerships)
It’s not so much about describing your strengths or experience, or even education. The less words the better. Consider fitting your introduction into a Twitter style of 140 characters or less.
My own networking introduction varies to suit the events or people I meet but my template is as follows:
Hook – I help people to create strategies and build confidence to realise their full potential
I work with graduates and professionals who want to accelerate their career but are struggling to launch, to create winning strategies and achieve their goals.
Some final tips
1. Some of my clients find it helpful to brainstorm many potential introductions rather than fixating on getting one perfect. Once you’ve come up with several options, see which one(s) resonate the most.
2. Much like a CV or cover
letter, your networking introduction should be tailored to the situation. You might use a slightly different introduction when meeting a recruiter at a career fair than when connecting with peer at a conference.
3. If you are a job seeker and don’t feel comfortable saying “I do X work” when you aren’t currently employed in that area, you can adapt your language accordingly. For example: “I’m a Masters in Business graduate looking to help marketing departments to launch new products or enter new markets.”
4. Remember that the aim of a networking introduction is to lead to a further conversation. After you share your introduction, your new contact may make a comment or ask you a follow-up question about part of what you have said. Be prepared to listen for what they are interested in so that you’ll know how to continue the conversation with examples and anecdotes from your work and experience, tailored to your conversation partner’s interests. A networking conversation is not about “selling” yourself as the best candidate. It’s about getting to know each other, exploring common ground and seeing if there are ways you can help each other. And it all starts with a brief and clear networking introduction.
5. Simply taking a few minutes to develop — or refine — a networking introduction prior to a networking opportunity can help you feel more prepared, communicate more clearly, and network more effectively.
Please share your networking introduction — or get feedback on an introduction you’ve drafted – in the comments section below.