Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Introducing Yourself

A lot has been written on this topic. Sometimes it feels like the entire point of networking is to focus on the introduction. I believe it’s an opportunity we often waste. Why is something we do many times a day - not just at an event - so hard to get ‘right’?

Possibly because there’s a lot of pressure to pile ‘you’ into a handshake and a few words. To be mesmerizing in15 seconds or less. To become the most interesting person in the world just by uttering your name and something pithy which you spent hours rehearsing in your head… only to have something completely different pop out of your mouth.

Ok - let’s step back.

Think of yourself as an unwrapped stick of gum. (indulge me) Now put yourself in the middle of a dozen other unwrapped sticks of gum. Assume all the other gums are equally as talented and tasty as you. Other than size and maybe some colouring, it’s hard to tell everyone apart.

This is where personal brand comes in. It’s the markers and identifiers that allow folks to pick you out of a crowd. It’s your wrapper. Personal brand isn’t superficial; it’s not fluff. It’s how folks know what talents you have and what you stand for.

Most of us wander about like unwrapped sticks of gum hoping that someone will intuit the heart of us - our flavour, our characteristics. Look around the next meeting or event and try to pick out a stellar, driven performer by their appearance. (I don’t believe you’d get that description during a handshake either!)

Your personal brand is like your list of ingredients, adds colour, and is a marker for who you are.

That doesn’t mean you should pin a resume to your chest under the name tag.

You can however rethink your introduction.

Some parts of your personal brand will definitely take time for someone to uncover: your work ethic; personal ethics; soft skills; career ambitions; and your past history to name a few.

Some things you can convey immediately in a greeting, such as: your sense of humour or seriousness; intensity or relaxation; ability to listen and focus; your self-confidence and your passion for the topic at hand.

Passion intrigues us. Passion makes us ask questions and seek information. Passion often gets the conversation started better than your job title. Passion can be conveyed in one sentence - either offered or as a response - to a topic you hope to introduce or that’s on the floor already.

So introduce yourself wearing your personal brand proudly.

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