I am Dr. Hassan, a Board-Certified Physiatrist and Independent Practice Owner. I help physiatrists start and grow their own profitable practices so they can achieve financial independence and live without limits.

Building off the theme of relationships being important to building a profitable practice, when you first meet someone and make that first impression, another tool you want to deploy is your elevator pitch. You know how important networking is for maximizing your career and building your practice and your brand. But it’s not always enjoyable. For me, I’m an introvert, and it gives me great anxiety. You can make networking a whole lot less painful by being prepared and having your personal elevator pitch rehearsed and ready to go. This trick has given me the ability to minimize my anxiety during networking events.

Here are eight tips I recently learned to help polish my elevator pitch for the next time I’m at a networking event:

1. Keep it punchy. A good elevator pitch should be no more than 45 seconds. Yes, the average length of an elevator ride. I’ve gotten mine down to 15 seconds so that I must speak even less. Your elevator pitch should be interesting, memorable, and brief. And you should feel comfortable delivering it. It should sound natural and not like an elevator pitch.

2. You must keep it focused. You can tailor your elevator pitch to the event that you’re attending. Are you there representing your organization, or there to get your next collaboration, or even your next partnership? Keep your two-or three-line pitch focused on that objective. If the person you’re talking to is from the same industry or went to your college, include that to get their attention. If you have an existing connection, you can start to build the relationship there. Make sure you know your audience and it helps to understand one thing they struggle with.

3. Mention your career experience or goals. Be clear about your experience or your business goals. Tell them you’ve worked in rehabilitation medicine for however many years or that you’re an entrepreneur, or an ability rights activist. Mention any specializations without falling into jargon. And make sure to steer away from too much detail.

4. Mention your qualifications. If you have a specific board certification, or an MBA, mention it now. If you just graduated, you could specify your residency program’s focus. You might want to include any significant achievements, leadership skills, or standout strengths.

5. Highlight what makes you unique. Think of what makes you stand out? Do you speak other languages? Have you worked or volunteered overseas? What unique qualities or experiences make you memorable?

6. Include a question. Your elevator pitch isn’t a party piece that just finishes and that’s it. It’s an invitation to continue the conversation. You should consider including an open-ended question; asking about the other person’s practice or an opportunity to speak with them again.

7. Slow down. In your eagerness to get your elevator pitch across, it’s easy to speak too fast or even appear desperate to impress. Remember to breathe, slow down, and smile. Make eye contact and allow the other person to respond.

8. Practice. Practice makes perfect. Once you’ve written your elevator pitch, you should rehearse and refine until it’s second nature. Practice repeatedly with your partner, a friend, or even your dog. Practice in front of the mirror and observe your expression and body language. What image are you projecting? You want to look calm, confident and engaging.

Remember these tips before presenting your elevator pitch at your next networking event and you’ll be sure to make a great first impression and reach your ultimate goal.

How you present yourself is a critical part of networking and when looking for a job. Check out our blog post here for tips on how to market yourself when looking for a job.

I’m Dr. Hassan, a Board-Certified Physiatrist and Independent Practice Owner. I help physiatrists start and grow their own profitable practices so they can achieve financial independence and live without limits. Please go to businessofrehab.com/contractnegotiations to pick up the free guide to help you negotiate the contract of your dreams.

Attention, Physiatrists! Stop leaving money on the table. Sign up for the free video series: How To Build A Profitable Practice in 90 Days or Less: http://www.sixtytosuccess.com