Everyone knows how to introduce themselves, right? It's just like those name tags organizers pass out at networking events, "Hello, my name is…" Unfortunately, a lot of job seekers have a tough time getting beyond that very basic introduction. Sure, they can chat about where they grew up or their favorite book or movie, but when it comes time to say something smart and relevant about their job search interests, it gets a little tricky.
Do you have a pitch about you, your skills, and accomplishments ready to use the next time someone asks what you're looking for? While conventional wisdom used to dictate you prepare a two-minute "elevator pitch," most elevator rides don't last two minutes, and most people's attention spans certainly don't.
Instead of the two-minute pitch, you should think about how to share relevant information about yourself quickly and succinctly so your target audience doesn't have time to start mentally planning out their grocery shopping list while they're waiting for you to stop talking about yourself.
If you can't introduce yourself to a potential contact in 30 seconds or less, you may miss some important opportunities to impress someone important.
To create an impressive pitch, know the answers to the following questions:
1. What is your goal or objective?
2. What do you offer? Identify the skills and accomplishments that make you stand out from other people in your industry.
3. What do you do? Include information about your goal or objective as it relates to your target audience.
4. What problems do you solve? Every job description stems from a company's problem or specific need. Make sure you know how your contributions will make a difference for the organizations you target.
5. What results do you create? Think about your accomplishments in your current or past positions.
Use this format to plan your reply:
I work with (target audience) to (what problem do you solve). This is how (your results).
I collaborate with non-profit organizations that support women's causes to create, organize, and run fundraising events that raise money from previously untapped donor bases. Last year, we increased donations by more than 50 percent and broke all of our fundraising records.
Keep in mind: One trick to a successful pitch is to eliminate jargon or other language your target audience won't understand. This is especially important for career changers: don't rely on lingo from your previous career to appeal to new networking contacts. Focus your comments to appeal to your new audience and you'll be much more successful impressing them with your knowledge, skills, and abilities.
With a well-planned, succinct, targeted introduction, you'll inspire additional conversation with your networking contacts. Prepare to ask for a formal meeting to share ideas and insights, but always be ready to detail your expertise in-depth and on the spot if someone asks. Always be ready to answer questions about how you accomplished your goals and solved problems in the past and to explain how those experiences make you a good fit for your targeted opportunity.
Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer, and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to empower their success.