Your professional introduction is your most important networking tool. You need to have it in your back pocket so that you can deliver it on a moment’s notice. You never know when you’ll have the opportunity to make a valuable connection. The ability to introduce yourself in a way that makes a positive impression will allow you to turn those connections into job prospects. Here are some tips to help you polish your professional introduction so that you will be ready when opportunity knocks:
State your goals. What are your short-term and long-term goals for your career? What type of job are you looking for right now? People are a lot more impressed by those who know exactly where they are going.
Practice. Your introduction isn’t going to sound amazing the first time you say it. You need to practice it until you can deliver it naturally. Practice in front of friend and ask them for feedback. After a few tweaks, you should be ready to go.
Customize your pitch. While you need to have a standard introduction ready, you should also be customizing it to the person standing in front of you. What can you do for that person? Which of your skills might interest them? Remember the question that’s at the back of everyone’s mind, “What’s in it for me?”.
Talk to the person. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who was speaking ‘at’ you instead of speaking ‘to’ you? It makes you feel as if the other person could happily continue the conversation even if you were replaced by a teddy bear, a chair, or some other inanimate object. Don’t make people feel that way. Engage them and try to get to know them. Most importantly, take the time to listen.
Have a hook. What makes you different from everyone else? Do you have a special skill? Do you have a unique background? If you can’t think of anything, then you need to find a way to develop your own niche. Don’t be afraid to be creative. Consider the employer’s problems and try to determine how you would be the best person to solve them.
On the whole, networking is a skill that takes time to develop. Few people are natural networkers, but it does get easier with practice. As you become more comfortable making professional connections for the purpose of furthering your career, the jobs will start to come to you.
(Written by Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of Chanpipat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)