You joined the company a few months ago. Next week, there’s a team building where everyone is going to be in attendance, including the most senior executives. You’ve read all articles about effective networking including how to make an impact and start gaining visibility. But now that the actual event is nigh, you’re thinking it may be better to just stick to speaking with the people you’re used to interacting with - your team members and age-mates.
There is a lot more flexibility in the modern workplace — this means you may not have to schedule an appointment to have a heart-to-heart with a senior executive, or to discuss some innovative ideas that you think would improve the company’s bottom line or processes. So how do you approach an executive in a way that will make the person you are speaking with willing to have a further conversation?
The elevator pitch of the workplace
Say you met a colleague you really admire. You’re standing in the elevator waiting to get to your floor and before you know it, you’ve had two minutes of valuable connect time but instead spent it racking your brain for something smart to say and lost the opportunity.
The best way to make yourself memorable is by having your elevator pitch ready - in this case, it is not asking for money or a promotion, but it’s meant to open the door for further conversation. The best topics to bring up are a project you worked on or acknowledging the person for an initiative they were involved in.
Say, for example ‘Hi XYZ, my name is Mary from the customer support department and I wanted to congratulate you on the ABC project you recently initiated. I’m especially interested in the XY aspect because of such and such reason’. This will break the ice and allow for ease of conversation.
Remember to ask them if it would be OK to reach out to talk a little more about the said project. If the timing is too short for this, send them an e-mail reminding them of the chat you had and asking for a little time to meet in person.
The first rule of company gigs goes without saying, but we need to remember it all the same - keep off the alcohol even if everyone around you is drinking, especially if you want to make a good impression.
The one thing people are worried about in company activities is making a fool of themselves. However, executives treasure team members who can get out of their comfort zones and have fun. Keep the self-consciousness at bay by remembering that you want to be memorable by showing that you’re not afraid of a challenge.
If you want to leave a great impression with a senior member of the team, express appreciation for the opportunities you have come across - avoid complaining about your role or company. Avoid any negativity that may put them off or give them the impression that a meeting with you would be a waste of their time.
Don’t take it personally if they are unable to give you a meeting date immediately, or if their calendar is full for a considerable time. Do, however, check in every few weeks without putting them under a lot of pressure.