The Challenge of Networking: Present Yourself

“One of the greatest gifts you can give to anyone is the gift of attention”- Jim Rohn

One fine day I met someone walking up the stairs of the parking garage. We talked about becoming mutants and developing various secret powers. I can be good at that – random banter not relevant to anything important or personal. However, when he asked what department I worked in, I simply named Records Management. Fortunately, he did not give up. “What does that even mean?” he asked. Oh wait… Are you looking for an elevator speech? I was not surprised that I once again failed to recognize this rare opportunity.

Thank you for asking, sir. I work in the Enterprise Records Management department, where I am responsible for all aspects of compliance of company records with legal, regulatory, environmental, and business guidelines. I establish records management governance and try to find ways to support it. I create the policies and procedures that dictate how documents should be handled based on the confidentiality level of their content and when and how they should be destroyed. I lower enterprise risk exposure by helping business units find the most effective and efficient ways to comply with all requirements, while ensuring that litigation and storage costs are under control.

Hmmm… we had to agree that he did not know who I was because records management is at the top of only my priority list. Unfortunately. Note to myself: start being more cognizant about this type of small opportunities to pitch the job and its effects and deeply-reaching implications. Ahhh…easier said than done.

That would be an example of an internal elevator pitch. According to my new sponsor, it is advantageous to have two different elevator speeches developed – one for people you work with and another one for people you meet outside of your company. I think the idea is great. I am sure you have seen it in many other career advice publications and posts. The benefit of this tactic is that it allows you to tailor your message and approach to the audience to align the clarity and the impact of the message. Even if you are not looking for a job with another company, the message that you want to convey should be different.

For example, the goal of my internal elevator pitch is to propagate the sheer concept of Records Management and its importance from compliance and financial perspectives. On the other hand, the goal of my external elevator pitch is primarily to promote myself – my brand, my education, my skills, my passion for knowledge, my work ethic, etc.

Theoretically, you can take it even further. You can create elevator speeches to fit all kinds of work and life situations. How do you want to be perceived at an enterprise-wide townhall? At a company Christmas party? At an industry networking event? At a networking event unrelated to your current profession? At a casual brunch with friends? Do you want to send a certain message when you are speak to the CEO? To your peer? To that new acquaintance you meet at the beach?

Have you been taking advantage of all opportunities to practice your elevator pitch? Do you customize it to your audience? How do you shape the way the world sees you?



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