Be it when you first arrive at a networking event and approach someone new, or when the event host makes his or her way around the room and asks you to introduce yourself, your first inclination may be to talk about what services or products you have to sell the others in attendance.
It makes sense after all: you’re at a business event looking to connect with others and to expand your professional network. But that type of introduction is called giving an elevator speech, and you should avoid it like the plague.
People want to been seen as individuals and for who they are, and it’s the way they remember and connect with you, too. Now, your business is surely part of who you are, but you’re far more likely to make a memorable impression if you share something a bit more personable. Perhaps a story about your pets, maybe a volunteer effort you’re passionate about, or even a vacation you just took or one you have planned. Be sincere. Oftentimes, an elevator speech comes off as rehearsed and impersonal, and could make you come off as a bit unapproachable.
Elevator pitches also make two-way conversation difficult. Casual conversation is far more likely to facilitate a back-and-forth exchange. You might even choose to leave professional details out a discussion until you’re asked about such details. Let it happen naturally.
Later, once you’ve learned a bit about your new connections and they feel more comfortable with you, sure, you’ll want to tell them about what it is you do professionally. Keep it casual and brief though. If someone you’re talking to wants to go into more detail about business matters, planning a private luncheon between the two of you can be the perfect way to delve a bit deeper.
You might also follow up by connecting via an online professional network like LinkedIn. It’s a great professional rolodex of sorts where your contacts can recommend you and your services and you can offer the same gesture in return.
Looking to join a networking event? Give Pagoda Business Network a try! No elevator speech necessary.
Nikki Murry is editor of Berks County Living magazine and a freelance writer, editor, proofreader and blogger. In her free time she is an active dog rescue volunteer and enjoys spending time with her 14-year-old son, Riley, and her three dogs: Buddha and Shelly, French Bulldogs, and Bruno, a Boston Terrier.