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Elevating your Networking Pitch Webster University I Career Planning & Development Center

Preparing a Networking Pitch

Awkward small talk can be avoided when connecting with new professional contacts by preparing a self introduction, or networking pitch, that can be customized for your intended audience.

A networking pitch is a brief, thoughtfully prepared and practiced message about your academic and professional self. It tells your audience who you are, what you do and where you're going. It should be delivered with purpose and last no greater than one minute.

Purpose: The purpose of your pitch is to share just enough information about yourself to engage in a mutually beneficial conversation with your new connection.

Benefits: Done right, a networking pitch can be the verbal equivalent of dressing for the job you want. That is, it can show you in a good light today, as well as reveal what you’re capable of in the future.

Example pitch

Hi, my name is Sara, and I am a PR manager, specializing in overseeing successful initiative launches from beginning to end. Along with my 7 years of professional experience, I recently earned my MBA with a focus on consumer trust and retention. I find the work your PR team does to be innovating and refreshing—I’d love the opportunity to put my expertise to work for your company. Would you mind if I set up a quick call next week for us to talk about any upcoming opportunities on your team?

Strategies

For some, organic conversation comes natural when meeting new people. At a networking event, you will likely meet new connections who share similar academic and professional interests. Preparing your self introduction, and a list of topics to discuss at the event is essential to your planning. Review the strategies and tips that follow for preparing your self-introduction.

Start from scratch: make a list of important pieces of information that you want to convey about yourself, your services or products, or your company.

  • What, exactly, do you do? What have you achieved, and what are your goals?
  • Who does your company serve and why?
Focus on the most interesting or memorable facts—the ones that really make you stand out from others.

Write it down: the list you create will be helpful for drafting a pitch that can be edited for different occasions.

Analyze and edit: you should ask yourself, so what? after reviewing your pitch. Think about the the impact your pitch will have on your intended audience and how you will set the stage for continued dialogue.

Practice your pitch: your networking pitch should sound like something you would actually say in normal conversation, not like you’re reciting something you carefully wrote.

Use your time effectively: you have a limited amount of time to entice your listener, so keep your pitch under one minute.

Request feedback: ask a mentor or colleague for feedback on a networking pitch you intend to use at future events. Be open to constructive feedback to strengthen your pitch.

Modify for your audience: your pitch should be customized with your listeners in mind. Consider who you will be engaging with and what information you will want to share about yourself.

  • An example of how you can modify your prepared pitch for a specific audience is when responding to "tell me about yourself" in an interview. A variation of your planned pitch can summarize who you are, what you do and what you bring to the table.

Modalities: most frequently, your networking pitch will be executed in a face-to-face conversation. A variation of your pitch can be used to introduce yourself in an e-mail or message through LinkedIn when connecting with new contacts.

Elevate Your Pitch

If your current networking pitch educates your listeners about what you do now, but not what you are capable of doing next, you’re missing an important opportunity to re-shape how others perceive you.

A great networking pitch should educate your audience about your future potential in a specific and focused way—so that if your ideal role became available, they’d see you as a natural fit.

Change how you’re perceived and become the go-to person for something bigger, better, and more integral to your organization’s success—by changing your elevator pitch with these three simple tips.

Own Responsibilities Beyond Your Job Description

  • Start with your name and job title, then follow with a brief overview of what you’re currently responsible for.
  • But then, go further. To upgrade your elevator pitch, make sure at least one of these bullet points is something you’re currently doing that goes beyond your job description and describes a responsibility fitting your next job.

For example, a product manager who aspires to manage a team of other product managers might say:

“I also mentor my teammates on product management best practices” or “For the last six months, I’ve led product management team reviews.”

This shows you've proactively taken on a leadership role within your group—and hope to continue on that path.

Become the Go-To Person for the Bigger Picture

Strategy: Replace where you're going, with what you bring to the table

After sharing who you are and what you do, finish your pitch with a statement that sets you up as the go-to person for higher-level duties.

For instance, a sales rep might say:

“I consult with executive level decision makers and help them improve their business models—feel free to come directly to me whenever you need ideas to drive revenue growth.”

Don't articulate the busy work or low-level tasks on your current roster—like, in the sales rep’s case, scheduling customer meetings or simply selling software—or you’ll only attract more of those. Instead, choose areas that showcase your leadership skills and the value you add to the organization.

Use Leadership Verbs

Spruce up the delivery of your networking pitch by using language that focuses on strong leadership verbs to send a powerful, forward-focused message.

Strategy: in order to shift perception of yourself from doer to leader, catch yourself before you say you “work on” something or that you’re “responsible for” it. Be actionable instead.

Say you lead it, oversee it, or orchestrate it. You’ll convey that you do more than simply fulfill your job description—but that you take pride in your career and aspire to continue along a path of success.

These might seem like small changes, but with time they can make a big impact on how others perceive you and the caliber of opportunities and responsibilities you attract.

Source: 3 Smart Ways to Upgrade Your Elevator Pitch, by Jo Miller, The Muse