7.2 Your Networking Pitch
- Understand why a networking pitch must be worded in a precise way that will both introduce you and create a very strong impression of your value proposition.
- Learn how to craft a highly effective networking pitch.
Earlier in this textbook (in chapter 5) the networking pitch was covered extensively. A shortened version is included here.
A networking pitch was originally termed an elevator pitch because in the time an elevator takes to go between floors (generally thirty to forty seconds), you should be able to articulate your value proposition (the skills you have and the position you are seeking). The elevator pitch is now also called the professional pitch, the networking pitch, or simply, the pitch.
An pitch is crucial to your job search: it’s a thirty second introduction and overview of what you are about, including your education, your work experience, and your unique value proposition. Typically, it’s also your first chance to impress. You can also use it in a variety of ways:
- Whenever you meet someone new in person or by phone
- At the very beginning of an interview, to give an overview of your background
- As an introduction during networking events (mostly business, but some personal as well)
This thirty- to forty-second summary should be spoken, or delivered, in a confident, convincing manner, making a strong impression. If your pitch is too long and drawn out, it lacks convictionTo have purpose.. When meeting networking contacts, recruiters, and hiring managers, this is your one chance to make a great impression and present yourself with clarity. No one wants to listen to a long, drawn-out speech. A pitch should be clear and concise, enabling the person who is listening to know exactly what type of job search candidate you are.
How do you craft an effective pitch? Three steps will ensure your success:
- Write your pitch.
- Edit your pitch until it sounds just right.
- Practice delivering your pitch verbally, and edit it further as needed because we don’t write the same way that we speak. Continue rehearsing and repeating your pitch to ensure that your delivery is natural, convincing, and authentic.
Write Your Pitch
Your pitch should answer the following five questions:
- What is your educational background? Detail every college or university you attended, your major and minor, and your expected degree and graduation month and year (include your GPA if it’s 3.3 or higher).
- Do you have any pertinent experience in the field in which you are interested?
- What are your critical skills and strengths? Highlight your top two or three skills.
- What do you want to do? Be specific regarding industry, function, and geography (see Chapter 3 "Step 1: Identify Your Job Search Targets").
- Why would you be good at the position? Focus on presenting your top two or three skills, and the skills you have that are necessary to succeed at the job you are targeting.
Edit Your Pitch
Once your pitch is in writing, review it and edit it accordingly. You should use words that come naturally to you because the more natural the delivery, the more impressive the pitch. Here are some steps you can consider while editing your pitch:
- After you edit the one-page answers to the pitch questions, ensuring that you have covered all the important items, cut it to half a page; this forces you to prioritize the essential elements.
- After you edit the half-page document, ensuring that you have covered all the important items, cut it in half again (it’s now one-quarter of the page); this forces you to be even more ruthless in prioritizing.
- After you edit the quarter-page document, ensuring you have covered all the important items, cut it in half again, leaving only four or five key bullets; this forces you to be concise and select just the most important items.
Practice Delivering Your Pitch
Once you have the final pitch in writing, you’ll need to practice, then practice, then practice some more. Your pitch should be spoken in a confident and compelling manner.
- Review your pitch to ensure it flows smoothly and addresses your career highlights, and then practice it until it’s memorized. Practice until you can repeat it when someone shakes you from your sleep at 3:30 in the morning and you can maintain your passion when saying it.
- Using an accurate stopwatch or timer and a tape recorder (or answering machine) to record yourself, repeat the preceding exercise. Start with two minutes, then cut it to one minute, then cut to it thirty seconds, and, finally, cut it to fifteen seconds.
The trick to a successful pitch is to practice it ten, twenty, thirty, even forty times. Practice until it rolls off the tip of your tongue. Practice until it has your exact tone and style. Practice until it’s such a natural thing to say that you don’t even have to think about it before and while you are saying it.
- A pitch was originally called an elevator pitch because you should have a quick, succinct way to introduce yourself should you meet someone in an elevator.
- A networking pitch is a helpful way to introduce yourself while emphasizing the quality of what you bring as a candidate.
- Create your pitch, using the exercise provided in this chapter.
- Fine-tune your pitch by typing it and practicing it aloud, ensuring it has the proper tone.
- Pair up with a buddy to practice your pitch. Critique your buddy’s pitch and listen to the critique of your pitch.
- Once you have finalized your pitch, practice saying it ten, twenty, and even thirty times until it flows smoothly.