Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sum up how you serve

When people ask you what work you do, do you respond, "I'm in insurance"? I've killed numerous conversations with that line at parties, or on a plane when I don't want to talk to my seatmate.

There are scores of articles advising a one-minute marketing speech that recommends that you quickly promote yourself to others. I advise a little more caution. When we meet others, we make snap-second decisions regarding whether we're even willing to learn more about them and their profession. Pushing a 30-second "canned" presentation the first few moments you meet someone that so many networking experts promote can backfire.

If you're "in insurance," how about this one-liner? "I help people protect the people they love." Or if you're an HR manager, what about "I help my organization recruit and retain the brightest people in the [fill in the blank] industry."

Build a picture of what you do with your words and open the door to a conversation where, once trust is built, you can divulge more information to others when warranted. Americans are overwhelmed by pitches and we who rely on networking must be careful that we don't come on too strong.

We can paint a picture with our words that shows our enthusiasm for what we do. If we're excited about what we do, it's easier to get others excited, too.

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