Most of the time, mingling at a work event inevitably means repeatedly answering the question “What do you do?”.
Typically answer would be “I’m job title X at company Y.
While this is an acceptable answer, it’s also likely to linger in your new acquaintance’s mind only until it’s replaced by what the next person says to them. Not very unforgettable, right?
“Answering with your title and company is the cultural norm. But when you do, you’re missing out on an opportunity for the other person to know who you actually are. You are not just your job,” says Joanna Bloor, CEO of Amplify Labs.
She specializes in helping people discover and articulate what makes them distinctive so that they can form deeper connections with others.
And it all starts with how you introduce yourself.
We need to make the answer somewhat a bit more personal.
Introducing yourself isn’t just about standing out in a crowded room or cutting through extraneous jargon and chitchat. By naming your special sauce upfront, says Bloor, you’re increasing the chances that the other person will bring up an opportunity, relationship, business or idea that could help you.
As Bloor puts it,
“When you get your introduction right, the opportunity is not only to genuinely connect with people, but you’ll also be allowed to do the work you really want to do.”
Be warned !
Crafting your very own intro would take both time and effort. Here is some ideas on how you can come up with your new response to “What do you do?”
1. Go beyond your title (figure out who you actually are).
The first thing you need to do is figure out who you actually are.
Bloor asks her clients, “What is it you would like to be known for?” It’s an uncomfortable question, but she finds it jolts people out of their comfort zones. Rather than relying on previous accomplishments, you’re forced to consider what you’d like your impact to be.
2. Think about the problems that only you can solve.
Bloor believes that everyone is a problem solver. So what’s your unique story, what’s the problem you’re particularly good at?
But be careful not to be a know-it-all kind of guy.
3. Ask your friends and colleagues for input.
It’s often hard for people to see their own skills.
“The thing you are fantastic at can be as natural to you as breathing, so you don’t value it,” says Bloor.
If you’re having a difficult time identifying your talents, she suggests you turn to the people who know you well and ask them through a focused and honest feedback.
“What is it you see that I do well and that I’m unaware is really special?”
You’ll generally find common themes or language in their responses, says Bloor, even if they’re people from different parts of your life.
4. Flash back to your childhood.
Look at your childhood memory and find something which creates a familiarity between you and the person you’re introducing yourself with because “Familiarity Breeds Affection”.
5. Show a little vulnerability.
“I think a lot of the angst in the workplace and angst with each other is because we don’t talk about who we really are as people,” says Bloor.
So, take a chance, open up in your opening remarks, and reveal something honest about yourself.
Use phrases, such as “I’m really passionate about X” or “What excites me most about what I do is Y,” which can communicate your emotion and enthusiasm and prime others to respond in kind.
6. Gather some feedback on your introduction.
After you’ve crafted your opener, practice it on five people you know well. Then, a few days later, ask them ‘What do you remember most about my intro?” Their few-days-later response will tell you what is most memorable about your opener, what you could alter, and what you might try to lean into when meeting new people.
7. Blame it on someone else.
When you first start trying out a new way of introducing yourself, you’ll probably feel nervous. Bloor suggests prefacing it with, “I’ve just learned a new way of introducing myself and I’m experimenting with it. Can I try it out on you?”
People love to be asked for their advice or input.
8. Resist going back to the same-old intro.
The truth is, it will always be easier to say the stilted “I’m job X at company Y,” stumble through small talk, and then move on to the next person and glass of wine. In addition, when you give a nontraditional introduction, you will inevitably run into some staid folks who don’t get it.
But Bloor urges people to persist. She recently coached a woman named Rumi, whose standard intro was “I’m a copywriter.” After the two women worked together, Rumi realized what her secret strength is: her ability to be the other person in her writing. What’s more, the process of crafting a new opener made Rumi realize that “the part of me that I am ashamed of — being the perpetual outsider — is the very place from which my bulletproof power springs forth.”
Like Rumi, you may find that coming up with an authentic, personal introduction leads to deeper revelations in your life. “We all want to learn and figure out why we matter on this planet and in this life,” says Bloor. “And it can start with being able to answer the question ‘What do you do?’ better.”
Summarized from IDEAS.TED.COM on “the best way to introduce yourself to someone new.”
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