Personal Branding – Your Introduction

April 17, 2008

There are a lot of people in the world who swear by the effectiveness of the twenty second commercial.  They find it useful, witty, pleasant and memorable.  I am not one of those people.

I am sure that I am opening up a whole new “can of worms” by going against this method of introduction, but really, it’s for your own good.  First let’s take a look at the standard 20 second commercial (elevator speech).

The general rule of thumb is to sandwich an interesting fact or creative way of saying what you do between your name and your position title and company.  Like this:

“Hello, my name is Bob Smith.  I help people develop themselves as professionals.  I am the personal branding consultant at Sean Bacon Enterprises.”

That’s probably overkill.  I know personally, if someone were to introduce themselves like that to me I would probably be very put off.  Having been to communication seminars before, I am well aware of the 20 second commercial and can smell it from a mile away.  This introduction does not speak to Bob’s dynamic personality, rather Bob’s ability to rehearse.

So here’s my recommendation.  The verbage for Bob would go something like this:

“Hi, I’m Bob, I’m a Personal Branding Consultant for Sean Bacon Enterprises.”

So what’s the difference? With the elimination of the flowery job description in the middle, Bob’s twenty second commercial just became Bob’s 5 second commercial.  The key to this is in delivery. 

Using your last name, dare I say, is a matter of personal preference.  I don’t use mine, partially because it is a breakfast food and I don’t want to deal with the incessant wise-cracks that follow, but mainly because if I am talking to you, there is a better than good chance that I just handed you my business card.  My last name is on it, 9 times out of 10 someone will at least read your name when you hand them your card. 

The reason behind the elimination of the flowery job description is that if someone is interested in what I currently do or what I can do for them in my current position, this will probably come up through the course of conversation.  If you’re trying to establish yourself as a professional entity rather than “that guy/girl who works for” you certainly want to consider this approach.

Here are a few additional rules to follow:

  • Maintain soft eye contact:  don’t stare your new acquaintance down and don’t be checking out the cute sales rep standing behind them the whole conversation.
  • Keep your handshake relatively firm: don’t crush their medicarpals and don’t allow your hand to turn into a dead fish.  Do your best to connect the crease between your thumb and your hand with the same spot on their hand, two pumps and release.
  • If you can tell what they had for lunch, you’re probably standing too close.
  • If your new acquaintance starts to lose interest, make a polite exit to the conversation, but still follow up within the next couple days.

Happy Thursday Everyone!