24 Preparing to Network

The first step in preparing for any networking situation is knowing what you want to say. Before considering the different networking approaches, let’s focus on how to articulate what you can bring to the table.

Create a 30-second Elevator Pitch

Let’s reflect on the idea behind this. If you were riding in an elevator with someone you were interested in working for, would you be able to effectively convince the employer of what you can contribute in a way that will make them want to hire you or learn more about you? This is a very strategic way to impress your connections and it shows that you’re prepared by being able to articulate what you can do, explain what you can offer, and describe what your goals are, all in a 20-30 second timeframe. This technique is transferable to many direct employer contact situations, including cold-contacting, career fairs, employer information sessions, online and in-person networking, and even running into someone at the grocery store! To prepare your pitch, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do you do?
    Introduce yourself by first and last name. Provide a brief overview of your present situation, i.e. what program you are taking and what level you are in, or what your current position is.
  • What are your greatest strengths and qualifications?
    Explain accomplishments from your experiences and what skills you bring to the table. You can draw on examples from your academic, employment, placement, and volunteer experiences.
  • What are you looking for or looking to do?
    Make a connection between your skills and what you can offer the company. Reflect on your relevant career aspirations or goals.
  • What are your next steps?
    Mention your desire to connect with this person, whether it be to email your resume, set up an information interview, or add them as a contact on LinkedIn.

You don’t want to sound robotic, therefore, to sound more natural, make point form notes to jog your memory but avoid recounting your points verbatim. Practising your elevator pitch will allow you to feel more comfortable in an unfamiliar or unplanned situation and ultimately, make you feel more confident about your skills.

Elevator Pitch Example

Example 1:

Hi, my name is Kristy Goodwin. I am in my graduating semester at Algonquin College in the Early Childhood Education program, and I am so excited about a career where I can support children in such an integral time in their development. Recently, I completed my third field placement at the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, and my supervisor was impressed with my ability to naturally incorporate play-based learning into my interactions with the children. Seeing as I am committed to fostering curiosity through exploration,
I look forward to expanding on these ideas in the next company I work for. I really enjoyed speaking with you today; can I send you an invitation to connect on LinkedIn?

Example 2:

Hi my name is Ada Mohamed. I recently graduated from the Business Accounting program at Conestoga College. I have a wealth of international field experience from my home country. Recently, I was reading that your company has businesses all around the world and you are considered a global leader in accounting and payroll solutions. I would be interested in speaking with you further about some of my ideas, as I feel that my diverse perspectives on effective international business practices would be an added benefit to my next employer. I have some questions about your organization, would you have time to schedule a brief meeting to discuss this further?

Unless otherwise indicated, this chapter is an adaptation of Be the Boss of Your Career: A Complete Guide for Students & Grads by Lindsay Bortot and Employment Support Centre, Algonquin College, and is used under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 International license.

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