Expert Panel, Forbes Coaches Council
Developing positive relationships is essential in order to be truly successful in the business world—and that means networking. To network well, you’ll need to plan and refine your pitch so that you not only introduce yourself and your business, but also set yourself up to make good, lasting connections.
To help you take your relationship building up a notch, we’ve asked 13 Forbes Coaches Council experts to share one thing professionals can do to optimize their pitch and expand their network. Here’s what they had to say:
1. Highlight One Thing
As a TEDx organizer, we always advise our speakers to focus on only one idea in their eight- to 18-minute long talk. This rule is what makes TED talks so powerful! Implement this rule next time you network. You only have a few minutes with a person. Instead of giving them an overview of who you are and what you do, highlight one thing instead—what is the one thing you want them to know about you? - Marina Cvetkovic, The Peak Alliance
2. Be Authentic
Make sure to anchor your pitch in a deep truth about yourself. This will not only help to ensure you attract people, situations and opportunities, but they'll be the very best fit for you. Being authentic is compelling, and it'll help you be relatable. Additionally, these qualities will allow you to be more naturally you, meaning you'll expend less energy and build more meaningful relationships. - Rosie Guagliardo, InnerBrilliance Coaching
3. Share A Story
Nobody likes being pitched at, but we all love stories. A good story has a crossroads. Share with the person you met a current challenge or a decision you need to make and ask them for their opinion. They will connect with your mission by engaging their resources to help you. You may also get some good advice. Thank them and ask if there is anything you can do to help them. - Caterina Kostoula, The Leaderpath
4. Focus On What Makes You Special
Elevator pitches can feel daunting, but they don't have to. They are merely an opportunity to share who you are, what you're about and what makes you different. My go-to pitch formula is sharing a few sentences about your past, a few sentences about your present and a few sentences about your future. End your pitch by sharing what's fabulous about you. In other words, what's your special sauce? - Kyle Cromer Elliott, MPA, CHES, CaffeinatedKyle.com
5. Explain What You Really Do
Your networking pitch will go to the next level when you explain what you really do without formal titles and industry jargon. For example, if you are a high school administrator, tell me how you drive the institution to help prepare students for college and beyond. Then, use a success story to explain and punctuate what it means to implement your way of doing business. - Deborah Hightower, Deborah Hightower, Inc.
6. Concentrate On A Genuine Conversation
Pitch less and converse more. Have a pithy way to express who you are and what you do, but make it genuine. Ask questions and don't just talk about you. Make eye contact, listen versus just thinking about what to say next and ask follow-ups. Take a genuine interest in them and seek nothing in return. Think relationships first, business second. Strong connections lead to strong transactions. Be patient. - Gary Bradt, Bradt Leadership, Inc.
7. Be Engaging And Connect
The problem with "pitches" is that they're a monologue. Build connections through conversations, don't just collect business cards. Instead of a pitch, develop a hook. It's about being relevant and engaging. What might interest someone? Instead of talking about job titles—what is your superpower? You want someone to say: Tell me more! What is your core expertise, your talent? Connect, don't collect. - Erin Urban, UPPSolutions, LLC
8. Ask What Their Challenge Is
Instead of focusing on selling, focus on solving the issues people have. Ask people about themselves, what keeps them up at night and what their biggest current challenge is. Then, either connect them to somebody who can support them or find opportunities for ways to help them yourself. By being a resource of support, you can then build long-lasting relationships. - Monica Thakrar, MTI
9. Show Your Passion
What about your job or company excites or engages you? If you’re not excited, your audience won’t be excited either. Think of your pitch as an opportunity to shine a light on your company or product and drive home the benefits and all of the great things it has to offer, not just who you are and what you do. - G. Riley Mills, Pinnacle Performance Company
10. Keep It Short And Simple
As you think about your networking "pitch," keep your message relatively simple and succinct. Individuals who try to sound more important or take too long explaining who they are and what they do will lose their audience. Keep your introduction brief and engaging. Why would they want to reach out to you in the future? Sound bites last! - Kathy Lockwood, Blue Water Leadership Coaching
11. Ask Unusual Questions
When first meeting someone, don't worry about pitching yourself. Ask interesting questions, such as "what are you excited about these days?" or "what would be the title of your autobiography?" Asking an unusual question positions you as someone interesting to talk to. See how this conversation can lead to a future conversation and the pitch will take care of itself. - Laura Camacho, Mixonian Institute
12. Highlight How You Create Solutions
The purpose of every pitch is to provide a solution to a customer's problem. No matter what niche, industry or offer you have, the only reason your business exists is that it solves the customer's problem. A pitch's goal is to highlight these main benefits your product or service solves. Dedicating time to understand your customers and their needs will make your pitch refined and well structured. - Alex Fedotoff, AF MEDIA
13. Give Versus Take
Don't let networking become a drain for the other person by taking too much time and attention for yourself. Building trusted relationships is a two-way street. It's about a mutually beneficial engagement—learn how to "give" to the other in the dialogue. Ask questions and, after, email articles, make introductions or even find links to videos or events to continue the dialogue. Seek commonality. - Joanne Markow, GreenMason
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