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Newbies to networking: part III

It doesn’t matter how much you network if you’re incapable of speaking well about yourself. There’s a gray area between being humble and bragging. An elevator pitch lives in that state of limbo.

 To quote The Help: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” Each person has a unique story and experiences to share. You know yourself better than anybody. Take some time to reflect. Think about what you’ve done, what you love, what you dislike, what scares you and what gives you an adrenaline rush. Jot down notes as things come to mind but do not force yourself to remember every meaningful experience you’ve had in one sitting. Keep a rolling list on your phone to make quick additions. I do my best brainstorming during long car rides or while flying. After you’ve sufficiently soul searched, you can move on to the next step to form your elevator pitch.

 An elevator pitch must answer three questions: Who are you? What do you do? And what are you looking for? 

 Who are you?

This is simple enough. What’s your name?

What do you do?

Are you a student? What are you studying? What is your profession? If you have a long major or are seeking multiple degrees, keep this simple. Say, “I’m studying international studies and communication at LSU,” instead of, “I’m double majoring in international studies and mass communication with concentrations in global diplomacy and political communication with minors in political science and Arabic.” If your elevator pitch goes well, the person you’re talking to will see those details in your resume.  

What are you looking for?

What is your dream job? You is the next step in getting your dream job? How can the person you’re speaking with help you get there? This is the most tricky part of an elevator pitch. You don’t want to ask for a job, point-blank. That’s rude. In a way, you have to tease him or her with the idea. Describe a job you know he or she can offer without asking for it directly. If the person you’re speaking with isn’t in a position to offer you a job, he or she may be able to connect you with a colleague. During my time in D.C., I’ve grabbed coffee with a great number of people, most of whom aren’t in positions to offer me a job when I graduate. Yet, each one of them connected me with people they believe could better help me achieve my goals. With every connection you make, there is the opportunity to make ten more. 

If your conversation goes well, share your business card or contact information with the person. When I first arrived in D.C., I thought people might find me strange if I offered up my business card too quickly. In networking situations, I was initially shy. Over time, I’ve come out of my shell and have started quite the business card collection. There’s nothing to be nervous about. Just talk to people. Smile and say hello. A conversation will start organically. Then, lead into your elevator pitch if given the chance.

If a handshake is appropriate, make sure you deliver a strong, firm handshake. I’m looking at you ladies. Don’t give a fingers only handshake with a limp arm. Go into the handshake with an extended arm and grasp the person’s full hand. A wimpy handshake will completely negate your elevator speech. Don’t throw away your hard work. 

This article was originally published by the author 23 November 2016: 

About Savanah Dickinson

Savanah is a 21-year-old university student and young professional. She is organised, optimistic and aiming to make a difference. She guides her fellow yopro’s with her blog, Trials & Tribulations of a Young Professional, providing her own tips and tricks to making it in the adult world. Savanah has been published in numerous publications including American Airlines's in-flight magazine, American Way, and by her university's newspaper, The Daily Reveille.

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