To take the edge off new situations and make the prospect of meeting strangers more comfortable, develop a networking script to introduce yourself. Think of your script as a 30-second elevator speech. If you had only half a minute to tell a stranger who you are, what you do for a living, what your career goal is, what you have to offer, and the listener could help, what would you say?
Write down three short yet descriptive sentences designed to break the ice, introduce yourself and ideally, start a conversation. You may have to write your introduction down and edit it a couple of times until you are sure you have covered all the relevant points.
When delivering your introduction focus on the task at hand. Look the listener in the eye and give the impression that to you, the listener is the only person in the room.
Introduce yourself, and then listen attentively to your contact’s introduction. Follow up with questions designed to get your contact talking about his or her career interests. We all like to talk about ourselves. Focus your initial conversation on your contact, and you will be well received and remembered as a good conversationalist.
Politely excuse yourself and move on once it becomes clear that, for whatever reason, this person simply is not a good networking contact for you. Your goal is to establish a few top-notch business relationships not amass a large pool of so-so contacts. Do not run yourself ragged joining every industry association or attending every fund-raising event in town. Remain focused on your career goal. Strive for a small number of long-term, mutually beneficial networking relationships with people who can move you the farthest distance in the shortest amount of time.
Never downplay your accomplishments. You only have 30 seconds to capture the listener’s attention. Make your introduction memorable. Give the listener a reason to continue the conversation or remember you the next time you meet.
Be careful not to sound like you are reading a script. Write and rewrite your elevator speech until it sounds right. Then rehearse it (even with your friends and family) until your three- sentence introduction flow as naturally and comfortably as possible.