One of the most important tools in the business world is networking.
School of Business graduates have reported networking as the most successful job or internship search method. In fact, networking can account for up to 80% of an effective search process. Networking is a great way to gather industry information, provides a mutual relationship that benefits all parties, and can lead to career advancements.
The personal pitch or “elevator speech” is a marketing tool that you can use in a networking or introductory situation. It should be memorable and effective, moving you and the prospective employer further into conversation.
A strong pitch will:
- Introduce yourself by stating your name, school, and major
- State what makes you unique or sets you apart from your peers
- Identify yourself in terms of the most relatable skills or strengths
- Invite further conversation with the listener
- Be 60 seconds or less and be memorable
Starting a Conversation
Take an active approach when you want to network by making eye contact, smile, and walk up to the individual. Offer your hand and introduce yourself with your Personal Pitch.
- Dress professionally, you never know when you may meet a new person to network with
- Avoid topics like politics, religion, personal information, or jokes
- Do not ask for a job or internship in your initial meeting
- Keep your conversation flowing by asking relevant questions
- Exit the conversation when you have made a strong enough connection
- Follow up with a note or email if you received contact information
Networking can come in many different forms and a growing way is through the internet. Companies are increasing their online presence, and more are solely hiring via sites like LinkedIn. Classmates, alumni, professors, advisors, guest speakers, and other professionals in your chosen area are all great individuals to connect with.
While networking can lead to great opportunities, you should be cautious of your overall online image. Many companies are now searching the social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram of prospective employees before offering a position. Keeping your personal sites private and regulating what other people post or tag you in is a key step in managing your personal image.