This past week I had the pleasure of speaking with a group of student leaders at Concordia University in Austin, Texas. Working with a young group was fun. We discussed using networking to achieve goals, and in the process went through an exercise on planning that involved creating a pitch for themselves.
When I enter any networking environment, one of the the things I make sure to have in mind is how I will approach someone and demonstrate the purpose for which I am there. Sound formulaic? It is! Some people are blessed with the ability to work a room without any need to prepare. Some of us are not so lucky. And if you have any apprehension when it comes to networking, one of the best ways to defray that anxiety is to approach the situation with preparation.
So what is my formula? Create a pitch for yourself:
Introduction: (Say hello – and you can be creative)
Short Story: (Who are you?)
Presentation: (Why are you here?)
Close: (Create the relationship)
Rehash: (Foster the relationship)
How do you put this into action? I use that template to have my talking points ready, knowing that there will be conversation from the other person that fill sin any gaps. This is a sample pitch about myself that I use whenever I enter a enter a networking situation where I am trying to recruit new law firm clients (incidentally, my ideal client to recruit is a small business owner). Keep in mind, this is only the essential part of my part of the conversation. Usually conversation ensues outside of these parts, but I always want to make sure I hit each of these statements.
Introduction: “Hi, my name is R.C.”
Short Story: “I’m a small business attorney here in town.”
Presentation: “I’m meeting folks in town, making friends, learning about people’s businesses.”
Close: “I’d love to get your card, we should get coffee.”
Rehash: (In an email within 48 hours) “_____, it was great meeting you at ____ event. What day works best for coffee?”
This is by no means the only way to present yourself, but it’s at least a start. Play with it. Find your own voice and own story, but most importantly, approach your networking opportunities with preparation and planning, especially when it comes to knowing why you are there.