Everywhere you turn, someone is touting the importance of crafting a killer elevator pitch to use at networking events and exhibits. The thought process driving the elevator pitch is that you need to get your message across to the recipient in the time it takes for you to go up in an elevator.
That being said, pitches are effectively outdated. Yes, I said it. While selling is a necessary act, pitches are outdated and people tune them out. No one buys things because your pitch is great. They buy things because they’re compelled to.
Ditch The Pitch
You must get prepared to have conversations ahead of time. In order to properly and successfully network at events, you should do the following:
- Do Your Due Diligence
Before you go to any event- networking or otherwise, you should know exactly what you’re going to. Why is the event created, what is its purpose, why are other attendees excited, etc. By doing your due diligence, you’ll find the opportunity to better position yourself when you’re speaking with people. Here’s what you should make sure you know about:
- People: Who is attending this event? Most events utilize social media to share their attendee list and engage with active attendees on channels. Use this list to research the people who are attending. You should know their job titles, where they work, their hobbies, etc. Use this information to your advantage when you speak to people- it’s a great conversation starter!
- Jargon: Depending on the event you’re attending, this can vary. If you’re going to a tech-heavy, industry specific event, you should research the appropriate jargon/speak that the people attending actively use. No matter what the field, you must be prepared to talk the talk.
- Current Events: Keep the conversation going by keeping up on current events that are impacting the industry the event centers on. Being well-read can be critical because it gives you an opportunity to show your intellectual capacity in a specific field as well showing your passion about what you do. Generally speaking, people want to engage with other passionate people.
- Identify Your Goals
We do not do things aimlessly, instead striving for a specific result from the actions we take. Some examples of goals that we can use for a networking event could be:
- Meeting new key people in our industry
- Landing an informational interview
- Expanding your knowledge
- Expanding your professional network
- Understand the Difference Between Value & Skills
Communicating skills to people is much easier than differentiating yourself. Before you go to events, make sure that you learn your value and that you’re able to show whoever you’re speaking with how you’re different than the last person they talked to. Make yourself interesting and describe the value you bring instead of listing out skills.
Networking is all about building relationships, not sales. The relationships bring in the sales opportunities. This doesn’t mean that the intentions of your networking changes, it means that the way you approach it changes.
Kristen Bowie is a marketing leader, forging the path with data-driven decisions. When she’s not writing for thought leadership and creating sponsorship proposals at Qwilr, she’s hanging out with her two urban dwarf goats, painting, or is out watching a local band.