For years career experts have advocated (and some still do) employing an elevator pitch for networking success. There are many books, blog posts, and articles with advice on how to create, memorize and recite the perfect elevator pitch. If you’re not familiar with the term, an elevator pitch is a concise and persuasive one-liner that outlines who you are or what you do in under 30 seconds with the intent of creating enough interest to land a job, sell a product, or close a deal.

The idea of an elevator pitch sounds great—just 30 seconds from no deals to riches, right? Only if it were that easy; traditional elevator pitches can (and often do) go wrong for many reasons.

  1. Irrelevant information. Some of the information in your rehearsed pitch may not be relevant to the conversation. Stick to topics that flow naturally with the dialogue. If you can’t come across a good time to interject your pitch, plan to follow up.
  2. Forgotten parts of the pitch. It’s not uncommon to overlook a few of your memorized lines. And, of course, the story isn’t complete without all the moving parts. My advice would be to ditch the pitch and go with the flow of the conversation.
  3. Unnatural and awkward segues. Don’t try to fit the square peg into the circle. If the timing of your pitch doesn’t make sense, it’s acceptable to forget using it altogether.

 

So, what should you do instead of reciting a scripted elevator pitch? Now that you have an idea of how networking can go wrong let’s go over ways to take your networking to new levels.

  1. Be authentic. The use of an Elevator Pitch often can be viewed as unauthentic and annoying, therefore hindering the ability to move to the LIKE and TRUST phase of connecting and building a long-term relationship. Let the conversation flow naturally and gradually.
  2. Build trust. Sharing helps earn trust. Think about what you can share with your newfound business buddy. Do you have a resource that could be a solution to a problem they may be facing? Or could you put them in contact with your favorite service provider? Leverage the law of reciprocity here. The more you help them, the more inclined they would be to help you.
  3. Think long term. Meaningful relationships are built over time. This is why authentic networking works!

Networking is a critical component of your career development, but it can also be entirely ineffective if you don’t go into it with a plan and a clear target. Implement these strategies to avoid the fruitless networking and missed opportunities.