As we start to gear up for the busy networking season ahead, it’s a good time to dust off your old “elevator pitch†– that brief self-introduction or personal branding statement – and consider what you could do better.

To connect quickly with people and reach your networking goals, I advise you to devise several different elevator pitches so you’re ready for whatever opportunities arise. You also want to develop your own set of conversational questions to ask to keep the connection flowing.

Three Popular Hats for Networking

It helps to think about people wearing invisible hats when they attend networking events.

Business or Professional role

One not-so-invisible hat is usually the business or professional role. You and the networkers you encounter need an elevator pitch or self-introduction that inspires further conversation, leading to an action, such as securing an appointment, meeting over coffee, or a lunch date. You won’t achieve this outcome by reciting your bio, resume or a laundry list of what you do! Instead, give insights into what you can help others accomplish with your expertise and services or products.

Supporting Causes

A second hat is often the volunteer position in a nonprofit group that supports a cause or institution. It could be a school or environmental program, a foundation that funds research into breast cancer, autism, or Alzheimer’s and dementia. These community-minded folks are always looking to get others involved as volunteers or as donors to the groups that are a major part of their lives. If you’re wearing this hat, what can you say to get us excited about your mission and projects?

Something New

A third hat is the personal one worn by an individual who is looking for something new. It could be a career opportunity or a way to come across well in the dating arena. Or perhaps, the quest is for a referral to a caregiver or even as a sitter for a child or dog. What are you seeking? How can you quickly and effectively let us know?

Regardless of which of these invisible hats the people you’re meeting may be wearing or what you are, you will win their hearts, minds, and dollars by matching what you plan to say to the benefits and problem-solving advice they want to hear. Practice aloud before you present to gain confidence to be smooth but natural-sounding. Be as brief as possible, in the 30 – 50 second range.

Looking forward to hearing of your speaking success. And wishing you a wonderful Labor Day weekend ahead.

Any presentations coming up soon?