Networking is all about making connections (interacting with other people to exchange information and develop relationships and contacts). Keeping in touch with a former teacher or supervisor, going to a professor’s office hours, talking with a family friend about your major, or making conversation with someone on a plane, are all different forms of networking. Additionally, networking is about taking a strategic, professional approach to resources and relationships. You can think of networking as a form of research into people and places that inform us about careers, jobs, graduate school, and internships.
There are many benefits to networking. These benefits include: (1) building confidence in communicating professionally; (2) exploring industries through an insider’s perspective; (3) identifying important skills and experiences for a particular career; (4) developing personal criteria to make choices about careers; (5) improving interview skills through professional conversations; (6) expanding your circle of connections in your field of interest; (7) learning about career opportunities with target employers; and (8) giving back by advising others.
Crafting Your “Elevator Pitch”
As a job seeker, you are effectively a salesperson—selling your skills, experiences and brand. Therefore, it is important to have a short pitch, often called an elevator pitch or elevator speech (because you should be able to deliver it in the brief duration of an elevator ride). Of course, you are actually unlikely to be in a small confined space when you need to use it! You may be at a conference, a networking event or a cocktail party. You never know when you might bump into a hiring manager, a potential employer, or someone who can be a valuable professional contact, connecting you to other people who can help you. It is important to get familiar with preparing and perfecting your elevator pitch, so that you will be able to make a good impression when opportunity knocks.
Preparing your elevator pitch will also prepare you for one of the most common interview questions: “Tell me about yourself.” Just like your answer to this question, your elevator pitch should be:
- Brief (30 seconds to a minute)
- Tailored to your audience
- Descriptive of what you offer/what sets you apart
- Enthusiastic—it is important to smile and be confident
In addition, after you deliver your pitch in a networking situation, it is important to make a move for next steps—either by asking the individual for an informational interview, appointment or a business card.
Since your elevator pitch needs to be tailored to your audience, you will likely have more than one version of it. It is important to practice multiple versions of your pitch with friends, family—and of course—Career Services.
LinkedIn is the world’s largest online professional network with more than 300 million users. It connects you to people you know and lets you view their connections, greatly increasing potential networking contacts and internship and job leads. You can also find job/internship opportunities and apply directly on LinkedIn. A strong LinkedIn profile will enhance your online professional presence.
- Getting the Most Out of
- LinkedIn Profile Tips for Job Seekers (From The Muse)