Networking Basics

In this networking basics lesson, learn how to network with the right people to increase your chances of job success.

Ask questions

Asking a series of purposeful questions can help you engage someone you're meeting for the first time. Most people generally like talking about themselves, so don't shy away from asking about someone's career and interests. At this point, you should be focused on getting to know your new contact and how this person might fit in to your network. You're not asking for a job, just more information.

Consider asking some of the following questions when you're meeting someone for the first time:

Craft your elevator pitch

In busy social settings, you may only have a few moments to capture someone's attention or make an impression. One of the most effective ways to get your message across is to develop a personal elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a clear, succinct, and specific statement that describes you and your strengths in less than 30 seconds. Preparing your speech in advance can also help you feel more comfortable introducing yourself to new people.

Your elevator pitch should explain who you are, what you're seeking, and what you can offer. Review some examples of different elevator pitches below.

Sample elevator pitches

For an experienced web designer:

I help people create modern, clean, and professional websites that will increase their business. I love finding creative ways to customize designs and meet my clients' needs. What can you tell me about your current website?

For a mid-level loan officer:

I'm a seasoned mortgage lender with a lot of experience helping clients feel more comfortable about their financial future. I'm looking to transition from my current position at a large bank to a more personal firm handling small business loans and mortgages.

For an entry-level medical assistant:

I recently completed a certification program and I'm currently seeking a position as a medical assistant. I love helping people, so I'm looking to find a position at a small practice where I can interact directly with patients.

After you've composed your pitch, be sure to practice it by yourself and with friends until it sounds natural. Don't be afraid to modify your speech over time, or adapt it for certain situations. Remember, your elevator pitch should leave someone wanting to know more about you. An introduction has the potential to become a more lengthy conversation or even a screening interview, so be prepared to talk about your experience and what you could contribute.