Networking. The most hated word in the business world for so many of us. By ‘so many of us’ I really mean me. I hate the whole idea of networking but alas, being a freelancer now and effectively starting my own business means I need to make sure I’m front and centre in people’s minds. While I may not be a fan of the idea of networking, it is one of the more effective ways to promote yourself and your business, whether or not you’re self-employed. I’m guilty of not being prepared and avoiding, rather than embracing, networking opportunities so here’s a plan for 2012 – for you and for me!
Preparing an ‘elevator pitch’
As weird as it may feel, people recommend to prepare a bit of a spiel about who you are and what you do. Then practice it many, many times so it’s almost second nature if someone asks you. I’m expecting to feel like an idiot initially and it may sound too practiced but having watched the experts, I can see that this works. I’m working on mine.
Promote and don’t demote yourself
In the whole elevator pitch, make sure you’re not doing what I tend to do and start with a defeatist or limiting attitude. I have a tendency to say ‘well, my experience isn’t in your industry at all but…’ when I’m talking to people in other industries. As soon as you start with something limiting, the person you’re pitching to will immediately push work opportunities aside. We may have a great conversation but I’ll never get any work from them simply because I gave them the impression that I was unsuitable.
Say yes to every networking opportunity
It’s tempting to avoid networking until you’re confident but you’re not going to build your confidence without networking – the ultimate catch-22. I’ve been to a number of networking events in the last month or so, many of which I knew from the offset wouldn’t really be my market but it was great to get out there. I’m still working on my confidence because I’m still getting my head around the fact that I’m actually good at what I do and that this is really what I’m doing. But every time I get out there and meet more people – even if I come home with the same number of business cards as I left with – I’m learning more about my pitch and how other people network.
One of my goals this year is to perfect my networking strategy and be prepared all the time. You never know where and when opportunity may knock and I’d hate to miss the call.
- How to Write a Better Elevator Pitch (beckersbest.wordpress.com)
- Your Elevator Pitch: Unliking your existing one… [Fraser J. Hay] (ecademy.com)