Tuesday, October 18, 2011

5 Steps to Creating an Effective Self-introduction

You may have heard it called an elevator speech or a 30-second commercial. No matter what it is called, it is imperative that you prepare – and memorize – your self-introduction before you take on networking as a job seeker or even as a career professional.

We have all been to those professional events where the first question we are asked is “What do you do?” How often have you blown this golden networking opportunity by simply telling the person what career field you are in? Use this 5-step approach to prepare your message in advance and take advantage of the next time you have a chance to shine in a networking situation.

What is your background?
Let your listener know what your background is, how many years of experience you have, and what the scope of your responsibility has been. Don’t just be satisfied with saying “I am a project manager,” instead say “I am a project manager with more than 8 years of experience leading cross-functional teams of up to 25 personnel complete projects budgets up to $25 million.”

What certifications or education do you have that are important?
This section is more important in some career fields than others. Only mention certifications and education if it is relevant to being considered a candidate in your chosen career field. Unrelated degrees or education need not be mentioned in the networking arena.

What are your strengths or areas of specialization?
Think about what you want the person to remember you as. Last week I talked about defining your personal brand. This is one of the ways that you will use the brand to discuss your area of expertise. To continue our earlier example you might continue on to say, “One of my areas of expertise is bringing together a diverse team and creating an effective project implementation schedule that ensures project milestones are met within the scope of the project budget.”

Offer an example of one of your accomplishments.
I am a big believer in proving my skills and knowledge with examples and accomplishments. Don’t just tell someone you have a skill or expertise, prove it to them. Our project manager example may continue in their introduction as follows, “I took over my last project that I led to completion when it was 6 months along. The project was in trouble; it was behind schedule by at least 6 weeks and was running about 20% above budget. I met with the team and revised the schedule to try to make up lost time, I identified and corrected the key areas where the project was over budget, and involved the whole team with making some major changes. In the end, we were able to come in 7% under budget and completed the project on schedule.”

What are you looking for?
This is the most important part of networking, and often the hardest part for most people. You have to ask for assistance. Most people really want to help you, but they can not help you if they have no idea of what you need. Whether you are looking for a new employer, networking contacts to expand your client base, or just to make connections with industry professionals and expand your knowledge, be sure to tell your listener what you need.

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