Most professional jobs are not posted; we typically find employment through our professional network. This chapter introduces networking skills and helps you develop your self-introduction & elevator speech.
What is a professional network and why do I need one?
Your professional network is the people you know who can impact your career. It’s classmates, work colleagues, instructors and bosses, as well as people you meet at professional events. You might even meet people at social events who are in the same industry.
Your network is vital to employment. Most jobs are found through professional networking; an estimated 75%-85% of jobs are never posted. To find work and build the career you want, you need a professional network. Networks take time to grow so start building yours before graduate.
How do I build my network?
Connect with people. Talk to classmates and instructors. Attend networking events, join clubs, volunteer, follow employers and industry groups. You’ll find them in person, on social media, in your school and through alumni organizations. After you connect with people, connect with them on LinkedIn, and stay in touch.
Now you know why networking is important. But what do you say to these new acquaintances? If you’re like many people, you might feel shy and stand there silently – or worse, chatting maniacally about nothing. The best way to look and sound professional is to prepare.
Your self-introduction is what you say to people at networking events. It should be clear, brief and professional. First impressions are important, so create your self-introduction and practice it. (Practice will make it easy to remember when you’re nervous.)
Your self-introduction should be about 15-30 seconds and include your name, what you do (job or industry), what you want, and a question that will start a conversation.
Hi, I’m Deep. I’m a financial analyst in the retail sector. I just graduated from a post-degree program in Supply Chain Management and am looking for work. I came to this event hoping to meet people in the industry and learn more about current trends. What do you do?
Your Elevator Speech (also called an elevator pitch) is a self-promotion that’s short enough to say during a brief elevator ride. You can use your elevator speech whenever you meet potential professional connections.
An elevator speech is a short speech (~30 seconds) that gives a brief understanding of who you are, sparks interest for the audience, and has a call to action. It usually includes:
- Your name
- Your top qualification(s)
- Your current education or position
- Something unique about you (achievement, expertise, skills, strengths)
- A request or call to action
Hi! My name is Isabella. I have a Bachelor of Communication and I am currently completing a Post Degree Diploma in Marketing. I have 4 years of experience as Inbound Marketing Specialist. My strengths include my ability to bring things to life through communication and my positivity. I am looking for a co-op position where I can put my education and project campaign skills to work. Could I meet with you sometime to discuss the opportunities at ScotiaBank?
Call to Action
The following are examples of calls to action:
- Can I give you my business card?
- May I get your business card?
- I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn
- Are there current opportunities in your organization?
- I’d love to meet to learn more about XYZ company. Would you have time for a brief Zoom call?
- Do you offer co-ops/internships?
- Do you know of any part-time opportunities?
- May I send you my resume?
- Could I buy you a coffee to discuss future opportunities?
- Can I call you sometime for a 10-minute chat about your organization?
Here are some ideas to adapt for your self-introduction and elevator speech:
- I want to further my skills in customer service
- I want to further my career in marketing
- I’m passionate about helping clients achieve their goals
- I bring a unique combination of industry experience and _______
- I feel my experience as a project manager and my team management skills would be a great asset to your company
- My skills include: project management, budgeting and teambuilding
- I’m able to complete lots of work in a high-pressure environment, while still being very accurate and friendly
Canadian Workplace Quiz
- Gina Belli, Business Insider, Apr 10, 2017, https://www.businessinsider.com/at-least-70-of-jobs-are-not-even-listed-heres-how-to-up-your-chances-of-getting-a-great-new-gig-2017-4 ↵