Making Professional Introductions: What’s Your Story?
By: Jill Mazza, MABC, CPC
Certified Professional Coach
In this challenging economy, many of my coaching clients are in career transition and looking for new positions across different industries. As we work together to prepare for interviews, job fairs, and networking events, clients increasingly realize the value of making great first impressions. Many of our communication coaching programs include the development of a professional introduction. A strong introduction – the story we tell about ourselves - is an essential aspect of any professional portfolio and can open doors to new relationships and opportunities in life and at work.
How well do you tell your professional story?
When asked about themselves, people often choke and miss opportunities to make lasting impressions and meaningful connections during job interviews and while attending business and social networking functions. Additionally, we never know whom we might meet while sitting on a plane or standing in line at the grocery store. Being well prepared with a polished introduction eliminates anxiety and helps us to leverage interpersonal interactions and to build relationships.
Many people do not have professional or personal introductions and think that handing out resumes and business cards is enough to make an imprint in someone’s mind. Resumes and business cards are little more than one-dimensional words on paper unless you have a strong introduction – a good story to tell about yourself - that makes YOU memorable. Everyone is his or her own best marketing tool.
So, what’s your story?
When making professional introductions, people commonly share where they went to college, what degrees they earned, then list their jobs and accomplishments since college in timeline format. This makes sense, since lives and careers unfold chronologically. Yet, this is not always the best way to create interest or to engage people. Instead, consider doing some self-exploration, then writing, and telling a brief, one to two-minute story about yourself.
Creating a professional introduction can be approached as a self-exploratory exercise that helps coaching clients to increase self-awareness and confidence while gaining clarity around goals, motivations, and strengths. This self-exploratory process is like interviewing yourself to tease out strategic points of interest such as your most notable professional achievement, personal passions, future project ideas, and unique reasons for job or industry transitions. You can then begin to talk naturally around these points as though you were telling a story. With finesse, polish, and practice, your introduction can be become a one-of-a-kind, self-promotional, marketing piece.
Once you have a solid introduction, you can add or delete content as needed for different audiences and settings. Consider these tips for creating professional introductions:
- List your points of interest.
- Write around your points of interest to create a story.
- Revise text to create an interesting, concise flow (two minutes maximum).
- Practice your story aloud so that your delivery is polished, personable, and powerful.
You only get once change to make that stellar, first impression. Take the time to develop a professional introduction. Tell your story. You and your career are worth showcasing.
Jill Mazza is an ICF Credentialed Coach and corporate trainer helping clients to communicate with increased control, clarity, and confidence on the job and in personal relationships. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.