Archive for the ‘Networking’ Category


The elevator pitch is your little summary, 30–60 seconds, that you spew on people about who you are professionally. Of course, you don’t want to spew it on unsuspecting guests at your cousin’s barbecue when they’re only trying to relax and scarf down a few chicken wings (especially without a mask). Spewing is okay when:

  • you’re asked “So tell me about yourself” at an informational or actual job interview
  • you’re at a formal networking event which requires you to stand up and talk about yourself for one minute
  • you’re having a chat with someone about work stuff, and the conversation goes into detail beyond the initial, “So what do you do?”

That’s it. Any other situation is not okay to spew in. Especially in an actual elevator.

So what does your spew actually consist of? It includes four components:

  • I am – this is just your name. Simple enough. At least, I hope so. If not, you’re really in trouble.
  • I do your job title or “tagline” describing what you do in ten words or less.  For example, if your field is pharmaceutical sales, your tagline could be, “I sell drugs.” Good conversation starter.
  • I help How do your skills help an employer fulfill their wildest fantasies? “I help small companies increase their customer base; I’ve been working in the field for over ten years.” That’s the idea, though you don’t have to actually use the word “help.” Really, it’s okay.
  • I need Of course, you would never actually say, “I need …” The idea is to convey what you’re looking for, while tooting your own horn. “I’m looking for an opportunity to use my blah–blah skills in a big drug company, so I can get all the drugs I want.” Just kidding on that last part.

So write and practice your spew so that it doesn’t sound like you’ve written and practiced it, and only spew when asked. And if you’re spewing indoors, wear a mask.

Happy schmoozing.

Jimmy Stewart meltdown

This is actually re-posted from last year, with additions (I thought of 5 more reasons).

1.   Employers ARE hiring, despite the common misconception that everyone’s in Bermuda.

2.   There’s less competition since a lot of job seekers think everyone’s in Bermuda.

3.   It’ll keep your momentum going, and make it less likely you’ll hop into a bathtub full of water and plug in your electric toothbrush.

4.   All those holiday parties are great opportunities to network. And scarf down free food.

5.   You’ll soon get sick of staring at the TV and watching Jimmy Stewart have a meltdown.

6.   A lot of companies start their fiscal year in January,  so they want to get the newbies in there as soon as all the holiday crap is over.

7.   There’s always the chance a manager could be inspired to hire you while snockered on spiked eggnog.

8.   How many times can you listen to songs about homicidal reindeer?

9.   The hiring manager is more likely to bring you on-board out of holiday spirit despite the embezzlement charges.

10.   Job search can generally be more fun during the holidays, since a lot of people are jollier than usual. Not me, but a lot of people.


Check out Explode, a comedy thriller/mystery novel. Spontaneous human combustion, or murder?

1.   It’s a good way to network, which is a much more effective job search strategy than staring at the computer screen for eight hours a day and indiscriminately spewing your resume out into the Lost Dimension of Job Seeker Infinity.

2.   Oprah’s history anyway.

3.   You’ll actually get some valuable info about what’s going on in your field of interest, and won’t have to keep listening to your whiny frenemies who keep saying, “There’s nothing out there.”

4.   You can officially slap the aforementioned frenemies upside the head for being negative.

5.   You’ve been spending too much time on the couch in your bathrobe, and you’re starting to smell.

6.   You’ll get info on what skills you need to be competitive, so you can emphasize those skills in your resume and cover letters, and/or brush up on the ones you’re shaky on.

7.   It’ll keep you in the game. ‘Cuz once you’re out, that fence is hard to climb over, and you don’t want to get your doinker caught in those wires on top.

8.   You’ll be interacting with actual humans.

9.   It’ll keep your confidence up, and give all those “talents I have to offer” thoughts long-term storage space in your head.

10.   You can actually get real live smokin’ job leads that way.

straitjacket guyA comedic look at job search and success – “What Color is Your Parachute” meets “This Is Spinal Tap,” if you will. This combination of comedy and advice gives helpful tips to anyone who is searching for a job, or hoping to hold on to the one they have. Topics include contemplating your navel to find your life’s work, idiot-proofing your job search, online disasters, strategic schmoozing, resume do’s and don’ts, interviewing horrors and how to handle them, how to hold on to your job, reflections on bizarre jobs, and weird work stories.

The elevator pitch, sometimes known as the 30-second infomercial, is one of the most important tools in your job search along with your resume, self-esteem and breath mints.

The elevator pitch is your (short) spiel about yourself professionally; how you market yourself verbally. That doesn’t mean you just spit it out to anyone and everyone you meet, including people in an actual elevator. The guy on the stretcher next to you in the emergency room, where you’ve landed after tripping over your dog’s foot and banging your nose on the coffee table, may not want to hear it. You do, however, want to say it when it’s appropriate, like when you’re asked the question in an interview, “Tell me about yourself.” Or in the formal portion of a networking event when you’re asked to stand up and introduce yourself for a minute or less. Or when you’re chatting with someone and you give them the first sentence or two of your “pitch” and they ask for more details. You want it to sound conversational, and you want to tailor it to your audience – if you’re a techie and you’re talking to other techies, you can use techie terms, whereas non-techies won’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

So what do you say in the elevator speech? Well, here’s the pitch (hey, felt like I was a Red Sox commentator for a minute there.  Anyway).  The pitch is essentially made up of four parts:

  • I am… as in, your name. I’m going to assume you don’t have any trouble with that one.
  • I do…a job title that accurately describes what you want to do; how you want to market your area of expertise. Or if a job title would leave too much room for perplexity, some detail that clarifies what you want to focus on. For example, “I run a pet waste elimination company” kinda says what you do, but it’s not as clear as, “I run a company that scoops your dog’s poop.”
  • I help…a little more detail about how your skills would benefit a company, your clients, and/or the world at large. To add to the example above, “We come to your house and clean your pet’s waste from the yard, and sprinkle fragrant organic herb particles that get rid of the odor, so your yard smells great.”
  • I need…Not as in, “I need a job,” but the idea is to say what you’re looking for, and where: “I’m looking to expand my business to pet-owners in the North Shore area.” Or more specifically for those looking for a job in a company, “I’m looking to use my blah blah skills in a small or medium-sized pet-related business.”

Make sure to put it all in a positive light; don’t just say, “I’m unemployed.” Even in your description of what you have to offer, it’s better to say, “…so your yard smells great….” than, “…so your yard doesn’t smell like shit.”

There are lots of different ways to network effectively, and a few ways not to network if you don’t want to bug the hell out of people. Bugging the hell out of people is generally not an effective strategy.

Seven Networking Dos

1.   Make a list of contacts, including relatives, friends, ex-co-workers and supervisors, ex-spouses (well, maybe not them), other professionally-related people you know such as vendors you regularly worked with, people with whom you’re in some kind of interest or community group, ex-classmates, instructors, etc.

2.  Connect or reconnect with these folks around something you have in common.

3.   Get out there. Attend events, take classes. Go to professional networking events related to your field, networking events not related to your field, fundraisers, events related to your interests, parties, barbeques, bar mitzvahs, bachelor parties, etc., etc., etc. The more opportunities you have to chat with friends, acquaintances, and strangers, the better. As long as you don’t get too schnockered.

4.  If you haven’t already, join professional organizations related to your field if they’re not too pricey for your current financial situation.

5.  Whether it’s with someone you know intimately or a total stranger, in person or online, always make it a “mutual benefit” encounter. It’s not just about you and your job search. What can you do for them? Come on, you can think of something.

6.   Develop a positive online presence. Yes, I said “positive.” More on that below in the “Don’ts” section. Build a professional presence related to your field, and/or another topic you have a lot of knowledge about. Get on LinkedIn and Twitter. Join online professional/interest groups, post articles, (intelligently) comment on others’ blogs.

7.   Remember you have tons of talents and knowledge to offer, and you can be a valuable resource to others even if you don’t happen to be working right now. So strut your stuff a little. Not in an obnoxious way, rather in a confident “I-have-the-goods” kind of way.

And Now For the 7 Networking Don’ts:

1.   Don’t harass people. It may sound obvious (at least, I hope so), but no one will want to help you with anything, much less be within fifty feet of you, if you pester them. Connect and follow up, yes, but don’t call people every day, don’t try to contact them more than two or three times at the most (not in the same hour); generally don’t be an inconsiderate asshole.

2.   Don’t be ignorant of the online impression you may be making. Facebook photos of you with your pants on your head and blog comments in support of snuff films won’t help you. Don’t know what snuff films are? Good for you.

3.   Don’t walk up to someone at an event and say, “I heard you’re the Financial Manager at Vandalay Industries. Here’s my resume. Could you spare a couple of hours to take me to dinner so we can talk about my background? Thanks a bunch.” Of course, I know you’re not one of THOSE people. Are you? If so, stop it.

4.   Don’t join groups just for the hell of it. Yes, I know we’re all human and all of us have SOMETHING in common and all that crap. You’re much more likely to find people to connect with and have stuff to say if you have a reason to be a part of that particular group other than to network for networking’s sake. If you’re an outdoor, sports-y person, don’t take a needlepoint class in hopes of finding people who can give you job leads.

5.   Don’t try to reconnect with people who probably would prefer not to hear from you. Ex-boyfriends who cheated on you (or vice-versa) wouldn’t likely be good people to attempt to network with.

6.   Don’t put anything online unless you’ve proofread it first. Spelling and grammatical errors won’t win you any brownie points.

7.   I said it before, and I’ll say it again – Don’t make it all about you. Show your interest in the other person and whatever they’ve got going on. Offer to give them info, contacts, resources, massage, whatever. Well, only the massage if you know them really well. You don’t want to give the wrong idea. But you know what I’m saying.