I told you last week about a team of people who were worried about an upcoming corporate restructuring. Their inner voices were whispering unhelpful thoughts suggesting they might not be smart enough, or sophisticated enough, or snazzy enough to fit in with their new colleagues. While it was clear to me that these fears were completely unjustified, I needed to help them figure that out for themselves.

So, I stopped our session and asked them each to write a one-line introduction they would use when they met a new colleague. It was a bit painful at first, but as they supported and cajoled each other into being bolder, the energy in the room started to rise. By the end, we had people standing up and introducing themselves to a room of 100 colleagues. It was amazing how having good introductions helped them feel more confident and less like imposters.

What if you had to stand up in front of a room of 100 colleagues and introduce yourself? Do you know what you’d say?

Nail Your Introduction

Take a few minutes (it’s harder than you think) and write yourself a crisp and compelling one-line introduction. Play around with it until you like it and then test it out on a few folks who know you. Let them punch it up a little (as if having your own advertising agency to consult with). They can help you take out the fluff, add in the good bits, and amp up the interest.

Try this at your next team meeting, leadership development session, or heck, even at book club. Everybody benefits from a good introduction.

Secrets of Success

Distil your role down to its essential focus. Pick one idea. Don’t dilute your introduction by trying to cram in everything you do. If the first sip is sweet enough, they’ll ask for more.

Give your introduction some fizz. Talk more about why you do what you do, rather than what you do. What’s the problem you’re solving?

Garnish with really great verbs. Do you help your organization navigate  complex regulations? Do you help customers explore  new options? Do you mobilize  complex project teams?

Remove anything that will leave a bitter taste. I can’t tell you how many people use the word “just” somewhere in their introduction. Yuck. No. I don’t want to spend my time with someone who is “just” anything. I want the person who is all in. Get rid of any limp, lame, or lackluster words.

What Dent are you Making?

I met a woman recently and asked, “What’s the dent you’re making in the universe?” She said, “I’m not really making a dent in the universe, I’m just a tax accountant.” Turns out she was the lead tax accountant for a company operating in 22 countries. Her introduction could be “I wrangle the tax codes of 22 different jurisdictions to help my company maximize profit and minimize risk.” Sounds pretty cool to me!

Do you hate company events because you have to meet new people? Try working on your introduction and you’ll see how a great introduction boosts your confidence. A great introduction starts a great conversation, and it gets way easier from there.

If you’re reading this as it comes out, I’m in London at the Thinkers50 event, which honors the top management thinkers in the world. A friend of mine is nominated for an award and I’m tagging along. I decided that these are the kind of people I need to be exposed to if I’m going to keep advancing my work. I’m slightly terrified. Wanna’ know what I did to prepare? Yup, I worked with my coach on my introduction. “Hi, I’m Liane Davey. I’m creating systems to normalize and neutralize conflict.” That plus a snazzy new dress and I’m ready to knock ‘em dead. Wish me luck!

Further Reading

You need to connect

Everyone is Pitching Something. Including You.

Breaking in a new team