Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

First impressions still matter. These days, the chance to make a positive first impression is more likely to occur via a virtual connection than by a masked conversation in an elevator. But the necessity of building rapport and trust during these early moments of connection remains essential for development of a productive business relationship.

The metaphorical elevator is a useless place to pitch yourself or your idea – no one buys from someone on an elevator. But the point is that you get only a minute or two with a new contact to influence their judgement and make that positive first impression. Trying to explain who you are, what you do and how you can help someone, without knowing anything about them or their needs, is a waste of time and a turn off.

Making the most of any networking opportunity begins by starting a conversation that focuses, not on you, but on the person you’re hoping to connect with. If you can discover who they are and what they hope to achieve, then you’ll learn if you could help them succeed. And because generosity is the genesis of trust, even if you’re not a good fit for them, you may be able to refer them to someone who is, earning you a positive first impression that may later produce an opportunity for you.

No one wants to be hustled. So rather than seeing everyone in the room as someone who could buy from you, fund you or hire you, forget about the worthless elevator pitch, and earn respect from them by considering how you might be able to help them in some other way. This will create an impression that causes referrals and future opportunities.  

How productive is your networking method?