Successful people get right to the point. They don’t bore you with endless details and confuse you with rhetoric. The next time you have a networking opportunity, run into someone who could potentially hire you, or speak to someone you admire….what will you say?
If you’re like most graduate students when asked what their thesis is about, they go ON, and ON and ON, and 5 minutes later you’re bored and you have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. Next you start wondering if this person will ever shut up and how they’ll ever get a job in the real world, when the answer to a simple question (What are you studying?) turns into a 2,000 word answer.
One of my undergraduate mentors told me that any graduate student should be able to explain their thesis in 30 words or 1 minute. And if you can’t do that, you’re not ready to begin your research yet.
This is so true! We need to take this advice and apply it to other realms of our lives.
Picture this: you’re at a conference and you run into your academic idol (is this a thing?!)—you have ONE MINUTE to talk to them because there’s a line-up of 30 other students wishing to make a good impression. What will you say??
“Blah, blah, blah, blah…….mumble, mumble, indecipherable nonsense. Silence. [then smile weirdly at them and pray they ask you to be part of their new research team.] And your moment is over. NEXT person please!
See what I mean? This happens all the time. You need to prepare for these chance meetings and networking opportunities. Prepare to impress.
You need to be succinct, to the point and memorable.
Who are you and what do you do? And the most crucial question of all: WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? Why is what you do (or what you’re interested in studying/researching/working on) so important? What gap does it fill in the world? Why are you the person to do it?
To answer these questions you must speak in sound bites and tag lines.
Every great company has a memorable tag line. Now you need to develop one. Practice, write out a few, say them aloud, say them to other people as you shake their hands and see if it sounds natural and confident.
For instance, “My name is Professor Maja. I’m the founder of ALL IN. I help women turn fear into success.”
Then be quiet. Wait for the other person to say hello and inevitably they’ll ask “What’s ALL IN about?” or “Tell me a little more about that.”
Then you go into your 2 minute elevator pitch.
For example: I’d explain the problem: women aren’t going ALL IN with their education and careers, there’s a lack of female leaders in politics, education, finance, business, etc.). Then I’d explain how I fill the gap: I conduct workshops and seminars for women in all areas of life (high school, college, university, starting out their careers), and I provide them with strategies and tools to fulfill their potential.
When they like what they’ve heard, they’ll ask you to expand more, & a natural conversation will happen.
At the end of the ‘meeting’ you must ASK FOR THE SALE. You must close the conversation by asking for something. What do you want? A job? A paid job or a volunteer gig? Do you want to learn more from this person, do you need a 15 minute coffee meeting with them? Do you need their opinion on something? Well then, ASK!
Never leave a networking opportunity without asking for the sale.