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As a newcomer to a breakfast networking group last week and despite the fact that I’m quite well known in 4Networking circles, I was reminded how important it is to be able answer the question “so what do you do…?” concisely and in a way that both grabs attention and leaves a lasting impression.

Most of the attendees were lucid and confident, but there remained others I spoke with who were only ever going to make a dreary and easily forgettable impact on their peers. The best pitches are the memorable ones.

If your career in business means you regularly meet new people – and whose doesn’t? – then it’s critical to be able to create and present a personal 30-second commercial, often called an “elevator pitch” in the States.

It’s the basis of personal networking, self-promotion, and pretty much everything else you need to stand out from the crowd in an over-crowded world.

Here are 10 top tips for making that first impression –

1: Talk benefits, not just features. “I’m an Solicitor who makes sure people don’t get ripped off in property deals” rather than just saying you’re a property solicitor!.

2: Be conversational and confident. Don’t hesitate, fidget or blather, and always present with a smile and a twinkle in your eye.

3: Don’t use jargon and particularly not industry-specific acronyms (OMG!)

4: Boast a little. It’s ok to start a sentence with “My key strengths are…”

5: Fulfil a need. Reminding the listener that you’re a qualified street gas lamp lighter marks you as quirky and interesting, but a little redundant.

6: Tailor to your audience. Investors want to hear how they can get returns, customers how you can solve their problems, and potential partners why you’re going to be a success together.

7: Use power adjectives such as “astounding” and “spectacular” over mundane words like “ok” and “good”.

8: Be prepared for follow-ups. If you’ve been convincing and engaging up to now, you’ll get questions. Rehearse the answers to any likely comebacks. Be prepared!

9: Review and revise regularly based on feedback. Conversely, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

10: Test your commercial on a 7-year old. If they don’t understand every word of it, you’ll lose half your target audience before you get a chance to finish!

I’m endebted to my old mate Jon Cooper for his influence on this blog and if you would like to try networking in a friendly environment come to your nearest 4N group – you will be most welcome!