“It’s summertime,” you say. “Give it a break Helena.” I shared your sentiment when years ago I flew solo to an all inclusive resort club to get away from it all. The sun and blue water of the Turks and Caicos was as far as I could get then from my public relations practice and writing deadlines. My fellow vacation ‘villagers’ all unplugged from the times’ simpler technologies that tethered us to our work environment and culture.
No business cards could be carried in our beach clothes or sports gear. Wallets were absent too as a bunch of beads at our throat served those with the need to ‘pay for’ the occasional bar visit. Yet, networking, or at least meeting and greeting went on, all the time.
At each meal, a cheery host walked us over to a new table and a new group of villagers to meet and to share the day’s adventures. News didn’t really exist. Most of us had the opportunity to engage 100 of the 250 members in conversation as we shared that week’s facilities, activities and cuisine.
Three questions were inevitably posed by vacationers hailing from all over the world:
What’s your name?
Where are you from?
What do you do?
Humans are social and very curious creatures, even on holidays. Relaxed situations are a great place to practice your conversation skills.
Of course, ‘elevator pitches’ are not always delivered in elevators – it is a graphic phrase that represents the opportunity to present information about yourself – briefly, clearly and in an interesting and precise way. In a business setting I would advise you to have your short summary, or Elevator Pitch ready to respond to the natural question, “Tell me about yourself.” I would also counsel you that a one word summary of your profession or job title is not enough to bring about curiosity about you and therefore, engagement.
No engagement equals no interest equals no ongoing relationship. You need to be prepared to share something about yourself, your interests, and passions. Why be prepared to speak to one, ten or a hundred strangers? How about feed your own curiosity about interesting people or the faraway places they come from or the experiences and stories they can share with you, with the table?
On vacation you don’t have to be memorable. You ARE ON VACATION, so your response does not have to be about business. It is pleasant, however, to be sociable and you never know what contacts you will make to enrich your personal or professional interests.
Be prepared no matter the duration of the connection:
1. Keep your message focused. The idea is to have a starting point to describe yourself and to connect with another person. Give them something; make it interesting if you can.
2. Keep it short. People genuinely want to know about you if they’ve asked, but give your information in digestible bits and leave room for more questions.
3. Remember to take turns. You want to share and to learn also by giving other people a turn in the ‘elevator.’
4. Get over yourself. You don’t have to reveal more than you wish to or need to, ever, but know that what you do say is not bragging or being self-centred. Even if you don’t feel like talking, smile, be polite and welcoming.
Your Very Important Point is to be sociable and sparkly so you should share some points about yourself in response to a question and to think about your conversation partners’ interests and so ask questions of them also.
Next time we’ll look at how to tune up your “Elevator Pitch” and put it to work for you to be memorable and successful with your social interactions as we all get back to business.