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Career Networking Tip: Don't Sound Rehearsed

Picture this: You're at a networking event and, to break the ice, you go up to one of the attendees and break out your elevator speech.  All of those hours of practicing have seemingly paid off because you got all of your lines down pat.  There's only one problem: You didn't get the response you wanted.

We've all been in a situations like this before, and it's pretty discouraging to say the least.  Why would a perfectly rehearsed statement go off so badly?  Part of the problem could be just that: You sounded too rehearsed.  Just like you would adapt your resume or cover letter depending on the job, you also need to adapt your networking talking points based on the situation.  For instance, you wouldn't want to say anything like this at a casual networking party:
"Hello, my name is John Q. Public and I have a successful track record of fundraising at several different organizations.  If you have a few minutes, I'd like to inquire if you have any contacts at a nonprofit that would be in need of my vast knowledge and expertise."
OK, that's a little bit of an exaggeration, but you get the picture.  That kind of sell would be more useful if you were attending a more formal event, say, a business party.  It would be completely obvious you are going off of a prepared script if you said those exact words at a small social gathering.  At those kind of events, you want to keep it more casual.  Make some observations about the party or ask if they tried that great punch.  Anything like that is a good starting point before you start talking business.  You will only hurt your cause if you come off as a robot.

Do you have any success stories from past career networking events?  Share them with us in the comments section below.
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