Friday, February 6, 2009

Elevator Introductions

An elevator introduction was described to me as a brief 60 second window of time to introduce myself and explain what I'm doing/looking for/interested in doing in order to network. At the UJF Casino Night, I met a few new people, and the question of "what do you do?" inevitably came up many times. Now, it's in my personality to be witty and self-deprecating (read: charming). But, as Adam pointed out to me after the evening was over, I was sending the wrong message. Here's a sample conversation of what I had been telling people:

Person: So, Adam works at Target. What do you do?
Me: Well, I graduated college in May with a degree in English.
Person: Do you want to teach?
Me: Maybe. Eventually. I think I'd like to work in the creative field, but no one is really hiring right now.
Person: Yeah, times are tough.
Me: Right, so I'm just really open-minded right now. I'm just looking for anything. I need to earn some money and get out of the apartment!
Person: Sure, well good luck.

What's wrong with this? Well, self-evaluation can be rough on my ego, but Adam is absolutely right. I don't sound confident or self-assured-- I sound frustrated and uncertain. The truth is, I don't know what I want to do long-term, but an elevator introduction doesn't have to go into that. I need to capitalize on the opportunity to make a strong first impression and give a definitive, assertive answer about what I want to do, so the person I meet has an idea if they could help me.

Improved Elevator Introduction to Practice:
Person: So, Adam works at Target. What do you do?
Me: My dream job is to work in publishing. But, right now, I'm also looking to find a job in public relations or communications.
Person: Oh, really? What's your background?
Me: I graduated last May with a degree in English and I love to write.
Person: Great, I'll think if I know anyone who I can put you in contact with.

In this scenario, I'm not waffling or letting my pride get in the way. I'd love to believe that if the economy was better, I'd have had a job six months ago, but, again, that doesn't matter to someone I've just met. From now on, even if I just meet some Joe Shmo in the bar, I'm going to rehearse my new & improved elevator introduction!

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