How do you introduce yourself?

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If you are in the go-between stage from employee to entrepreneur, you may find yourself frazzled when asked the question “So, what do you do for a living?” at parties, networking events and neighborhood gatherings.

You have the opportunity to introduce your role in your new venture by responding:

“I am a clothing designer specializing in high-end casual wear for active Boomers.”

Most often, however, you say something like:

“I am an accountant right now, but I kind of hate my job, so I got this clothing design thing going on the side that I will start as soon as I can find some angel investors who want to fund my idea.”

By wobbling around in your introductions, you may have just turned off your first angel investor – the person you just met!

If you are not confident enough to introduce your new work venture, why in the world should anyone else believe in you?

We can learn a lot about the skill of introductions from actors in Los Angeles.  Why does LA have the best-looking waiters, bartenders, bank tellers and administrative assistants?  Because they are all actors moonlighting with other jobs on the side till they get their next acting gig.  It doesn’t matter if their first and only acting job was as an extra in a soda commercial 10 years ago, they will always introduce themselves as an actor.  I LOVE that attitude!  For those passionate about the craft, they are fiercely proud of what they do and feel a higher calling for their work.  (My Aunt Char is like that – she was Miss Beadle from Little House on the Prairie for those old school folks reading … also the Mom in Eraserhead, for the alternative folks! She has done many things in her career: catering, property management and clothing design, but I will always consider her an actor.

The way you will start really owning your new business venture is to introduce yourself as an entrepreneur.  Examples:

New Acquaintance:  “So, what do you do for a living?”

You:  “I help homeowners use solar technology to reduce their energy bills by 400%”

New Acquaintance: “Wow, that is cool!  How long have you been doing it?”

You:  “For the last year or so” (“or so” is the key word … )

New Acquaintance:  “And this pays your bills?”

You: “It will in the next year as I complete the first phase of start-up.  In the interim, I moonlight as VP of Marketing for IBM.”

The most important outcome of introducing yourself as an entrepreneur first is that you will start to believe it yourself.

There is power in language.  A Buddhist friend once told me that the words that you say form a force field of attraction around you.  So don’t be shy.  Next time someone asks you what you do for a living, don’t chicken out – position yourself as an entrepreneur!

If you want to practice, introduce yourself here.

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42 Responses to “How do you introduce yourself?”

  1. […] first day of startup weekend. My biggest worry was how do I introduce myself? I looked back at a post by Pam Slim and once again my mind went crazy because of the endless possibilities. Identifying […]

  2. Michelle Ward says:

    Ohmygosh, I wrote a similar post to this a few years ago, too (without ever seeing this – I swear!) – seems to be a continual challenge/issue/fear for those in transition, especially creatives who don’t feel confident about making a living from their passion (yet!). I call it The Dreaded Question: http://whenigrowupcoach.com/2011/10/13/the-dreaded-question/

    And maybe I never really really stuggled with this because I used to be an actor…but I know I did feel silly telling people I was gonna be a hippy-dippy “life coach” (gulp)!

  3. prabu says:

    i am prabu,my native place trichy. i did my BA in english 2004-2007 then pg DIPLOMA in ims 2007-2008. iam seraching the networking job. and childhood like ciiket match ilike player sachi.

  4. SEO Training says:

    Hi Guys I am Divya Mane and I’ve been blogging for less than a year.
    and I am an employee at IMRI and am working for GR Rajesh Kumar – founder and director of IMRI – conducts hands-on training on SEO PPC Affiliate marketing and Online marketing.

  5. Dayflyer says:

    Hi Pam,

    Great post – it shows how important reframing your thinking is.

    Having ourselves escaped to start a new life in Greece a year ago, my partner and I are dedicated to helping others make the most of their potential in every area of their life.

    In the next few months we also plan to shake up the thinking of local Greek builders by building an eco-friendly house from recycled shipping containers. We plan to use green options such as composting toilets, grey water disposal as opposed to septic tanks, solar and wind energy; most of which are rare over here.

    We hope to encourage others to follow similar eco and budget friendly methods by posting our progress on our new blog: http://greecedonkeydroppings.com

  6. Julian says:

    Great post! My name is Julian and I have been doing online business for 10 years. I wish those old days were still here. Oh well, its gone and I am still doing well. I have hair care site http://www.blackhairplanet.com and a business site http://www.blackbusinessplanet.com, these sites are doing well. I am writing my first ebook about 2012… don’t laugh I found this subject to be interesting. I will publish it at http://www.2012doomsdayguide.com it should be done in april 09. We I hope to read more great informative posts.

  7. Here’s mine for business coaching in Texas:

    “Do you know how business owners go into business as experts in their field and quickly face complexity limiting their time, team, systems and money? Well what I do is provide solutions to accelerate their profits, surround themselves with high quality teams and systematize their business to work without them always being there. It’s the second half of 2008 which area of complexity are you working on…time, team or money? Why that one…?

    Or:

    “I coach/lead business owners to be TexasRICH – by thinking bigger – giving them more possibilities and courage to act, insisting on win/win and being first to inspire – leading by example.

    “Where’s the biggest gap between where your business is and where you want it to be…clients, revenues or profits? why that one?”

    More Free business building stuff from the World’s Number 1 Coaching Firm at:
    http://www.ActionCOACH.com/StephenMarino and http://www.ActionCOACHTexasRICH.com

  8. M.W. says:

    Very valuable post. Based upon the advice above, here is my intro:

    I work on changing Christianity forever, into something more healthy and beautiful.

    We educate on the fact that the Old testament and the apostle Paul are not need for a powerful and soul-enhancing Christianity.

  9. Matt says:

    Wow, I used to always give insecure responses to that question and they sounded just like that!! It felt awkward to say and I’m sure even more awkward to listen to.

    I have been making a real attempt to mention the company I’m starting with confidence and it does create a totally different atmosphere and conversation.

  10. Latarsha says:

    Great post!

    I’ve found that introductions give me a chance to be a little spicy with my description.

    I find enticing ways to say something that leaves the listener with a raised brow and a sense that, “Hmmm…there’s something about her that’s a little different…let me ask a follow-up question.”

    I’ve found that the follow-up question gives me a chance to gain their full attention and then lure them into the conversation a little deeper.

    Thanks for the post!

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    Creating your brand starts by defining the one thing you stand for in very few words. You need to create an elevator pitch that is shorthand for your brands value proposition. Your elevator pitch is your promise to deliver.
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  12. LJ says:

    Since everyone is introducing themselves….

    My name is LJ and I have been a bit of a serial entrepreneur for the past few years. I always have trouble introducing myself because I don’t know which venture to talk about… I am the co-founder of one of the largest black professional communities on the internet called http://www.connectingblack.com . I am also starting a similar spin-off for the female professional community called http://www.connectingher.com . I am am a managing partner at http://www.invisiwig.com . We are currently opening our second store in Manhattan. Lastly, I own a consulting company specializing in internet technology and the improvement of business process (http://www.liarty.com).

  13. LJ says:

    Since everyone is introducing themselves….

    My name is LJ and I have been a bit of a serial entrepreneur for the past few years. I always have trouble introducing myself because I don’t know which venture to talk about… I am the co-founder of one of the largest black professional communities on the internet called http://www.connectingblack.com . I am also starting a similar spin-off for the female professional community called http://www.connectingher.com . I am am a managing partner at http://www.invisiwig.com . We are currently opening our second store in Manhattan. Lastly, I own a consulting company specializing in internet technology and the improvement of business process (http://www.liarty.com).

  14. This is a great post.. got forwarded to you from Bob Sutton’s (No Asshole Rule) page. I have a pitch too – ‘I am a socially innovative solutions evangelist recommending ideas to healthcare startups.’

    Good post.. I will keep on visiting.

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    What ever you want to call it, it is important to have that 15-30 second clip memorized and powerful when you meet someone new or run into a past aquaintance.
    The elevator script is a must for the shy, humble pe…

  16. Sue says:

    Great interesting post I must say. I found this site by doing a search through Google for ideas of how to boost up my own current speech. At the moment I am a freelance web developer including a graduate student in Management. It is a little difficult to sum everything together because I have many branches and they continuously change especially now with my learning path. The most difficult task I am having trouble with now is putting everything together and having it make sense in a short three or four sentence comment.

  17. Jennifer says:

    Great post, Pam! I just stumbled onto your site while researching the topic of NETWORKING. I am enjoying your articles.

    Allow me to introduce myself: I counsel clients on strategies to best protect their assets, through cost saving insurance solutions. I work in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. My website is http://www.libertymutual.com/lm/jennifergreen.

    How confident are you that your current strategy is based on Responsibility?

  18. I put people who are clueless about investing and pay too much tax into tax-efficient investments where they get a tax break and make money.

    here’s my blog
    http://www.wealthbuildinglessons.com

  19. Duncan says:

    Hi,

    Excellent piece of advice. I’m currently a produt designer. Well, re-skilling as a student product designer, but this blog has given me some excellent advice when having to contact people across the globe for work experience.

    Thanks.

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  21. ES says:

    Hi

    I put together investment opportunities for people who don’t have a clue about investing. In the meanwhile I’m moon lighting as a programmer. [my company knows I’m moonlighting, they asked me to help them structure a deal where they could move into the building next door!]

    I also have an investment website.
    http://moneyshakerblog.com

  22. Katelyn Sack says:

    Why hello there, Pam et al. So good to see you. Yes, I’m new here. What do I do, you ask?

    I am an artist based in Charlottesville, Virginia. My work is mostly oils on canvas, but I also do some mixed media drawings and write music.

    Yes, it sure is hard to pay the bills with truth and beauty. I’m moonlighting as a research analyst for an environmental consulting firm until I get my art business off the ground.

    Please, take my card and visit my website sometime: http://www.katelynsack.com

    Thanks for this excellent post, Pam — and for the opportunity to take a deep breath and practice!

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  24. Jawwad Farid says:

    My three intros:

    a) I am a failure and proud to be one

    This has had an interesting effect in social events but I don’t use this in front of potential customers

    b) I run a small focused shop that works with large banks on risk management

    Works well with potential customers and yes it pays my bills

    c) Are you an actuary?

    Standard answer: Unfortunately yes.

  25. So, what do you do?

    Just found this interesting piece from Pamela Slim, which made me think about my Lightbulb Post. The excellent challenge for me will be my upcoming 7-day cruise, where I will probably meet hundreds of people who will ask the above question.
    For the rec…

  26. force fields of attraction

    Be the change you wish to see

  27. Francis says:

    Last year when I redefined what I do it shifted everything I did in my business and gave me a tremendous degree of new freedom.

    I deliver High-Stake Interventions for my clients…. (in the areas of Strategy and HR.)

  28. Darren says:

    I develop Web-based tools for teachers and invest in real estate. I expect my passive income to exceed my expenses within the next five years, at which point I will leave my SAT tutoring side job.

  29. Michael says:

    Hi, my name is Michael I do customer-centric web consulting, daylighting as an Admissions IT Specialist.

    Thanks for the sparks of inspiration. I’ve recommended your site to quite a few people and they’ve all loved it.

    Keep it up, Pam!

  30. Michael says:

    Good stuff!! I really need to write a one-liner for my work of passion.

    How about, “I am a filmmaker working on a documentary about a singer/songwriter.”

    That’s not my pay-the-bills job, but yea, saying it succinctly is so valuable — for me and whomever I meet.

    Ironically, here’s a sample of song lyrics by my documentary subject:

    “People always ask me what it is that I do
    And very rarely do I ever tell them the truth
    I’m a consultant, a pilot, a thief or a cook
    Or I’m just about to publish my very first book

    Sometimes I’m a hunter, sometimes I’m a clown
    Sometimes I’m a matador, who just moved to town”

    — from “Unemployed” by Michael McDermott

    Mike

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  32. Jocelyn says:

    Great post and advice. Agree that the nebulous phase of shifting from a corporate job to being on your own can make awkward (or more engaging) conversation based on your attitude and public “shpeel.”

    My elevator quickie has me saying this:

    I’m a blogger for a group travel start-up company called triphub.com.

    Cheers,
    Jocelyn
    Group Trip Advisor Blog Editor
    http://www.triphub.com

  33. Pamela Slim says:

    Thanks for all the great comments everyone!

    There are so many good ways to introduce yourself, and if you have a business, focusing on how you add value to the problems your customers face is the best way to do it. Many people have good formulas (I am fond of Robert Middleton’s “Audio logo” from his Infoguru Marketing Manual – http://www.actionplan.com). But the key is to really choose a business that you are passionate about so that you aren’t spouting off some memorized elevator pitch, you are just eloquently and naturally talking about what you love to do.

    Argos – I thought of your earlier comment from “niches” when using the example! (and I love my Aunt too – she is great!)

    Seth, I think your stab at an intro is great because you talk about the problems your clients face. I am sure that there are many interim steps to try before bankrupcy since it is so serious. But if that is the only option for someone who has heavy financial burdens, you can really provide an excellent service. I think that smart, kind, non-judgemental accountants and lawyers are a godsend for people stressed with financial pressures. You can really carve out a good niche for yourself in this area distinguishing yourself from some of your less ethical legal brethren.

    And Carla B., yes, it is an ongoing process, even if you are a seasoned entrepreneur!

    Carla G., I think your book title is great too and can’t wait to see it on the bestseller list.

  34. Pam,

    I agree. I always introduce myself through the eyes of my business. I do have a day-job, but I hardly identify myself with that. I makes a big difference.

    – Bryan

  35. Stuart makes an excellent point. Knowing “how I add value” not only forces me to think about and define exactly what that is, but it bypasses any preconceived notions people have about certain titles or job descriptions such as entrepreneur, marketer, salesperson, and consultant. It seems a more sensible path from “what I do” to what I’m meant to be doing.

  36. This is a great post! I introduce my self as an entrepreneur, because I am. I also introduce myself as this because I do more than just own my own business, I am also working on a variety of projects at once!

  37. Pam,
    A very helpful blog. It was refreshing to see you write as you did rather that slip into “elevator pitch” mode.

    I’m still sitting somehwere between the elevator ptich and a 90 second ramble! Work in progress I think it’s called.

    It is important for us all to be able to articulate not so much what we do but where we can add value. My concern is if you say what you do you’ve probably already limited your options to doing what you do at the moment somewhere else. By saying where you have value, you leave the door open to applying your transferrable skills into other industries and market sectors.

    This is particularly true for those who, unfortunately, are still stuck in the corporate world.

    Stuart

  38. Seth Rogers says:

    Great post. I really needed to hear this right now. Here’s mine:

    I’m an attorney.

    I provide legal help for people with unmanageable debt. I stop creditor harassment and give people a fresh financial start in life.

    Usually the best way to achieve this is through bankruptcy. I specialize in guiding debtors through the complexities of the bankruptcy court system while avoiding the many pitfalls created by recent changes in US bankruptcy law. The bankruptcy code is probably the most powerful consumer protection statute on the books and provides a way to deal with the countless financial and legal problems facing many Americans.

    I’ve been specializing in consumer protection in Boulder County (Colorado) for the past year or so.

    Business should really get into full swing once people start realizing that Congress did NOT eliminate Chapter 7 Bankruptcy as an option with the new law in 2005 (no matter what the collection agency says).

    Seth Rogers, Attorney at Law
    Longmont, CO
    (303) 775-2791

    So, how’s that sound?

    It’s tricky when your startup involves providing a service that is very helpful and important, but has a lot of negative baggage associated with its official title (in this case, “bankruptcy attorney”).

  39. Carla Blazek says:

    Pam, thanks for yet another super helpful, positive post! Even though I escaped cubicle nation years ago to start my own business (http://zenamoon.com), I can relate wholeheartedly as I begin dipping my toes in NEW unknown waters: writing a book, leading women’s retreats.

    That awkward in-between feeling is definitely here again.

    Sometimes I say I’m a candlemaker, sometimes a writer. Sometimes I say I’m an artist, because it’s a word with plenty of room for all of my creativity. I am so much more than the current expression of my business, and I’d love to find my own personal answer that truly fits when asked what I do for a living.

    P.S. Carla Golden: LOVE your book title! Best of luck to you!

  40. Carla Golden says:

    Great post, Pam! And another thing to be aware of: each time we introduce ourselves, we are affirming that reality for ourselves. We begin to believe it and then see it manifesting.

    As for me, I am the author of the best-selling memoir, No Dumb Bunny: One Woman’s Journey from Playboy to Pulpit. Excuse me while I go practice saying this over and over again….

  41. argos says:

    Hi Pam,

    Yeah, thanks for asking…I am a clothing designer specializing in high-end casual wear for active boomers.

    Well, I just had to be the first to respond as you took the words right out of my mouth!

    This is a very good post subject. I don’t feel many of us think about this enough. Two things come to mind- 1)one must take the time to imagine and write the most succinct elevator pitch, including greetings, salutations, introductions, etc. and 2) ignore everyone.

    To be in this space, where you directly share what you are doing, coupled with the attitude of not expecting any feedback, creates a powerful vacumm.

    It takes a lot of guts and maturity to do this in ones hometown too, though this post subject can help those that face this challenge.

    Hey! I love your aunt!

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