A lot of people have trouble communicating what they do. You might run into this problem already or it will be a challenge in the near future. The reason why I believe everyone will encounter this issue is that our jobs no longer completely define us. Everything we do, whether it is inside or outside of the workplace, is becoming more visible online. Yes, a blog is something you “do.” And yes, working out at a gym is an activity that you do as well. But what happens when you go to a networking event and introduce yourself to someone else? What do you say to them so that they remember what you do and want to connect with you to deepen the relationship?
I’ve been challenged with communcating what I do because I do so much now. I’ve learned how to condense it and articulate my introduction, so it’s effective and is said confidently. Today, I’m going to teach you how to do just that.
What you shouldn’t do
If I wanted to be real obnoxious, I would recite my entire biography to the opposite party, when introducing myself. I would say:
“My name is Dan Schawbel and I’m the leading personal branding expert for Gen-Y. I am the author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, which is due out on April 7th. I have a blog, magazine, awards, online podcast series and I write articles on personal branding for leading blogs such as Mashable. I’m also a social media specialist with EMC Corporation, a leading technology company. I interview successful business people, speak to colleges and organizations and do some side consulting for individuals looking to build their brand and stand out from the crowd.
Without going any further, it seems like I just coughed up a summary of my resume to the person at the networking event. If I were them, I would discount me as being self-serving, bragging and obnoxious. They would probably still be nice to me, but not want to take it anywhere else based on my introduction.
Goals for your introduction
When introducting yourself to someone else, your goals should be as follows:
- To get people interested enough in who you are and what you do so they want to continue the conversation and, at least, exchange business cards with you.
- To promote your own business, the company you work, while positioning yourself.
- To come off the right way, so that you aren’t condescending or bragging to the opposite party.
- To make them want to ask you questions about what you do. They might even be interested in your services or recommend you to their peers!
Steps to building an effective introduction
I think almost everyone can tighten up their own introduction and make it something of remark and special. Aside from having an introduction that is too long, many people sell themselves short by only mentioning one thing they do (letting that define them). An introduction is a chance to capture someones attention. Here is a process I’ve developed in order to help you communicate everything you do:
- Write down your bio straight from your memory, without looking at your website or resume.
- Take your bio and break it down into bullets, listing the most significant activity to the least.
- Circle the top three (or four) items listed (this could be your day job, your blog, etc).
- Write down a single sentence which captures all three (or four) major items and make sure it reads nicely.
- Recite your introduction ten times, so that it get’s in your memory stream.
Example) My name is Dan Schawbel and I’ve written a book, publish a magazine and author a blog on the topic of personal branding, and I help people effectively brand themselves online using web 2.0 technologies.
My situation might be unique because everything I do is somewhat connected to the topic of personal branding. This allows me to use four items instead of three. Plus, I’m able to wow the listener because I do a lot in addition to a full-time job. Based on this introduction, people may even assume that I do more than I’ve actually listed here. The point is that you don’t want to give them too much and you don’t want to give them too little.
What is your introduction?
Leave yours in the comment. I’ll give a free copy of Personal Branding Magazine to the best 3 introductions.