Networking: Break the Rules to Make Connections

HandshakeThis morning I had the pleasure of doing one of my favorite things: talk to a group about one of my favorite topics – the elevator pitch.

If you are in business the elevator speech should not be anything new to you. It is simply 30 seconds of verbal mayhem that supports or blows up your first impression.

Your introduction is critical because all business begins with an introduction; either you introduce yourself or you are introduced via a third party.

This morning a couple of the attendees mentioned that what I presented is different than what they have heard from other professionals. What they had been told was more about structured rules, protocols and expectations.

There are many networking groups and they have certain protocols that their members or attendees are expected to follow. You should respect these protocols. As far as all the “rules” of elevator pitches, if they do not work for you – break them.

You can talk to 10 people that do what I do (career, networking, business building coaching or resume writing) and can get 12 different answers to the same question. You can also do an internet search on the topic and really get overwhelmed with advice, dos and don’ts.

Given this overload and sometimes conflicting information overload my suggestion is this: read or listen to it all then stop using your head and listen to your gut. Use what resonates with you. This morning what I said, as explained below, resonated with the audience. For them it felt like breaking the rules and it felt good!

The Context of an Elevator Pitch

If you break down networking to the core it is all about building relationships. Relationships are based on an exchange of value. Before you can build a relationship, you must first make a connection, which is the point of your elevator pitch.

Make a memorable impression

I have a hard enough time remembering names, there is no way I can remember titles. My brain filters those out because they are unimportant.

Titles are meaningless for two reasons:

1. Titles allow your audience to determine your value. If you had a friend that had an unscrupulous broker who caused them to lose all their money in the market, what do you think their personal impression of brokers would be? If they were at a networking event and someone walked up and introduced themselves as a broker, do you think your friend would have the warm and fuzzies for this person?

Your friend is assigning a negative impression and value to someone they just met solely on the basis of their title.

2. Titles do not convey value. There are certain titles that do not need to be elaborated on, for example Pediatric Surgeon. That pretty much sums it up. However, for the vast majority of us titles are ambiguous.

The Crafting of an Elevator Pitch

You are not a title, stop introducing yourself as such. Introduce yourself as your value.

Make it clear

What do you do and for whom? Break it down to the very basics. What do you do? I have a friend in insurance and he does lots of things for his clients. Planning, sells insurance, blah, blah, blah. But what does he do at the core? For him and his clients it is all about retirement. His core is preparing and guiding his clients to be able to retire when they want with the income they want.

His what is retirement his who is his clients. He changed his introduction after we spoke from “I work in insurance to help my clients plan for and …….” I am not including the rest because I am pretty sure you started nodding off after hearing “insurance”.

He now introduces himself as “I’m a retirement coach.”

Make it less (to get a response)

I was at a networking event a month or so ago and a woman and I were talking when we were approached by a young man. We followed proper etiquette and invited him into the conversation asking what he did.

That was a mistake. After two minutes we started shifting in our places, after three minutes we started shooting each other sideways glances. By five minutes we were saved by an announcement over the loudspeaker. And we still didn’t know what he did.

You want to elicit a response from your audience, preferably a positive one. Ideally you would want a question. This gives you leeway into a conversation.

My friend who is the retirement coach is almost always asked a question. He purposefully uses a very short introduction to lead to a deeper connection.

Make it personal

I love the IT industry. I have a great deal of respect for people who work in this industry. I also know they get a bad rap. I also know that a lot of them do not help themselves clear that rap. I work in branding, I work with social media and with technology. I know what I know and it enough for me at this time. I also know when I am out of my league.

When I have to call on IT professionals the first thing I tell them is “I am an IT idiot, explain things to me as you would a three year old.” I just do not get what they are talking about when they use IT verbiage. I am also not alone.

When you describe your value, describe it in a way that other people – us non-industry people – will understand. Make it relatable to me. If I can understand it and relate to it I will remember it. I cannot talk about you or refer you if I can’t remember you.

One client started introducing himself in this way, “You know when your company does a system update and you come in the next morning with a crashed computer?” pausing for a positive response “I’m the guy that makes sure that doesn’t happen.”

Make it real

This is about you so it should sound like you. Not resume you, real you. The person I am talking to right now and at any time in the future. Be authentic, be yourself. My dad told me many years ago that a lie is much harder to remember than the truth. It is much easier to be yourself in every situation than present a façade and keep it up.
Some people are going to like you, some are not – there are no two ways about it, you cannot please all people all the time. The real you will resonate with the right people, clients, prospects and organizations.

I am a straight forward, blunt and high energy. I also practice the art of effervescent witticism (sarcasm) and sometimes my language does not meet with my mother’s approval. I am this way in my blogs, seminars, talks and coaching. I am consistent. You know what you are getting. I am passionate about what I do, I give my clients my all and I celebrate their victories as much as they do.

I also am the kind of coach who tells her C-level executive client that he has a bad case of verbal diarrhea. It clicked with him and he appreciated it. He also said no one had ever told him that before (even though he knew deep down he was doing it) and I told him because everyone else was afraid he would fire them.

This does not resonate with everyone, this is why everyone is not a client and I do not want everyone as a client.

When he refers me he can tell his peers what to expect and they get it. Part of my brand is my consistency in who I am and the value I provide to my clients.

This leads me to my last point:

Make it repeatable

The more I understand what you do and how it relates to things I can understand the greater the chance I will remember you and more importantly, mention you.

Many times in structured networking events you are expected to mention the types of contacts or companies that you are seeking for an introduction. If I know that contact, but not your value, then how can I introduce you?

If I tell one of my contacts that they need to talk to you one of their first questions will be either, “Why?” or “What do they do?” If I cannot answer that question I will feel stupid. It is as though I am telling my contact that I am using them and it is a one way introduction – for you to get value from them but not for them to get value from you.

Telling them a title will not answer their questions. If they ask me what you do and I say you are an IT Manager they will ask more follow up questions to determine if they want to have that conversation. Your value will determine if they will share one of their most valuable resources: their time.

Sell me on you so I can sell you to others.

–Lisa

For Crying Outloud Don’t Tell Me You are in Sales

Do you know the quickest way to alienate or mislead prospects and potential contacts?

You might be doing it every time you network.

How do you answer the questions, “What do you do?”

If you answer with a title, you are alienating or misleading.

A title in this situation is either a name for your position or a generalized scope of field.

“I’m a manager”
“I’m in sales”
“I’m in communications”

Say any of these and your inroads to beginning a relationship are pretty much over, conversation dead before it started.

You did not answer the question – what do you do?

You have randomly and generically assigned no meaning to your value whatsoever.  People are looking for a way to escape your vicinity.

Titles are meaningless

More often than not, titles do not convey an accurate portrayal of your position and value.  There are exceptions, of course.  If you are a Pediatric Oncologist that pretty much sums it up.  There are also those who are very elevated within their industry or career that they use a simple title to underplay themselves because their reputation precedes them.

But for the vast majority of us – titles stink.  Not only do the not reflect who you are; they also allow the other party to assign your value based on their own personal experience.

Poor insurance agents, they have such a bad rap.  People normally assimilate them with never ending phone calls, follow up emails and endless conversations about term life insurance – snore.  I worked in the financial industry in brokerage, banking and insurance and have yet to meet an insurance agent who truly wants to talk my ear off about term life insurance.  But the negative reputation precedes them.

There are a few out there that do fall into the stereotype, as well as unfortunate souls who have been party to their badgering and mind-numbing conversations.

If you are an insurance agent who happens to come across one of those unfortunate souls and you introduce yourself by your title, you have just allowed them in less than 2 seconds to immediately categorize you as the same as that other agent.

Do not think you are going to talk your way out of it to change their mind about you.  They have already assigned a value to you and will not be listening to how you are not that person, they do not care.

In telling the other party that you are “in sales” they will most likely translate that into “I’m going to try to sell you something right now!”  Why?  Because there must be some unwritten law that, as consumers, we much be subjected to the pushy sales person at least once in our lifetime.  It is never a pleasant experience and one we are not likely to forget.  That is the impression that stays with us, despite hundreds of interactions with solution-based, customer centric sales professionals.

Manager – what does that mean?  I have had managers who were awesome, mentoring leaders who cared about their team.  I have also had managers that didn’t give diddly-squat about anyone but themselves.  Which one are you?  Giving me just the title allows me to assign that perception to you.

It is not what you are called, it is what you do

Instead of using a title, try introducing yourself as the value you provide to your clients or company.

A friend of mine attended a talk I gave about networking and elevator pitches, which is in line with what I am saying in this blog.  He is an insurance rep.  I know, stop cringing.

After the talk he took time to think about the value he provides to his client.  He asked himself why do his clients work with him, what are their goals and what does he help them achieve.  He then assigned a new way to introduce himself and tested it at his next networking event.

When asked what he did, he responded, “I am a retirement coach.”  It is an anti-title because it is an unusual title that prompts a question.

The question is key.  You want that type of response, it means they were listening and have opened the door for you to paint your picture the way you want and engage them.  Just a word of caution: don’t get too cutesy, it will have the reverse effect.  If you assign a title that is so outrageous or cutesy people will assign it no value and not care to ask what that means.

It is not a matter of time

I am not a big fan of the two minute rule.  Coming up with two minutes to describe yourself equates to me two mind numbing minutes that I will never recover.  Do you realize most people stop listening after about 15 seconds, if you are lucky?

I love going to networking events where everyone has a very lovely, down pat 2 minute speech and when it is my turn I use all of five seconds.  The looks on the faces is awesome.

Short and sweet.  If you blurt out everything in two minutes what have you possibly left for them to ask you?  You have told them everything.  They will probably smile and nod politely and might even add a non-committal remark like “that’s nice”.  Conversation is one way and over.

Turn it around

Engage them, evoke a feeling, connect with a problem, use humor – be human!  You want to build relationships and that means connecting on some level.

An excellent way to engage another person is to make it about them.  Once you give your value – and they ask you a question – turn it on them.  Use them as an example, ask them a question to frame your response in a way that is meaningful to them.

When asked to expand, someone in sales (ick – I know) may ask, “do you have enough clients?” Other options could be starting a question with: do you find, have you ever, what is X like (some component of their business), what is your biggest frustration with, don’t you hate when and so on.

I have two segments of clients that I work with: those looking to move in, on or up in their careers and those in some form of sales.  I cannot assess which category a person is in by looking at them, or even hearing their title.  Someone may be in sales and be secretly looking to change jobs, industries or careers.

After receiving a question to my introduction, I might say, “let me use you for an example; if you love your job but are still struggling with building a solid book of business this is how I would help.” Then end with “…and if you hate your job, I am there to help you find and get the one you love.”

I say might because I do not have a down-pat response.  I have a good idea of what I want to say but never memorize it.  I want it to be fresh, relevant and real to the person I am talking to, therefore I vary it every time.

Now in following these tips, you might just find that you are the center of attention in the conversation.  That’s nice, but do not let it continue.  Bring it back to them.  Ask them questions about what they said, what they like about what they do, about their clients, markets, industry or company.  Give them genuine attention.

One of my favorite quotes is by John Wooden, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

Your title is your reputation, your value is your character.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer

www.CareerPolish.com

Getting Over the Networking Blues of “I’m Just Not Good at It”

I attended a networking breakfast this morning.  It was the speed dating style where everyone was assigned three separate tables and each person was given two minutes to introduce themselves to the rest of the table.

 

I have never taken two minutes to give my “speech”.  For this fact, most people are ok with me at their table.  I professionally coach people on networking and their networking “speeches”.  For this fact, most people are nervous or uncomfortable about having me at their table.

 

This morning at my second table a friend I have known for a few years was at my table.  He attended a networking event where I was the speaker and spoke to elevator pitches.  He subsequently changed his and used the same premise today.  He told me that he still uses it because it really works.

 

When we went through the roundtable he made mention to the table that this is what I do.  Everyone smiled politely but I could see a couple wheels turning.  When people recognize that this is what I help my clients do they tend to look only at me when they give their speech unconsciously looking for encouragement or some indication that they are doing it “right”.

 

Relax guys, I’m just enjoying meeting new people and drinking my orange juice.

 

Someone came up to me and confided that they didn’t feel that they were very good at these types of things.  I get that from a personal perspective.  It can be uncomfortable holding  court and telling people about yourself, feeling like you are selling yourself.

 

On a professional side, the coach in me wants to say, “Suck it up cupcake, you are in business, people need to know who you are.” 

 

But here is the thing – stop doing it in a way that seems uncomfortable.  You can put together the most polished three sentence, 45 second speech that could ever be conceived; however, if it makes you uncomfortable it is worthless.

 

Your body language gives it away.  I can’t hear your message because I am being overwhelmed with the non-verbal message of “I hate this” or “I am uncomfortable” or worse yet “This really isn’t me”.

 

If you don’t want to sound like a walking billboard then stop it.

 

If you don’t want to sound like a tag line then stop it.

 

If you don’t want to sound like something you are not then stop it.

 

Start being yourself.  Add your humor, your spin on it that comes naturally for you.  That tag line or title does not convey who you are and what you do.  The way to do this is to be genuine and speak to the value you provide to your clients.

 

There was a financial planner at one table and his opening line was “I get to play with people’s money.”  Well, that got a few chuckles and smiles.  It wasn’t exactly accurate but it broke the ice, it put people at ease and he was completely comfortable.

 

The first rule in networking is to relax.  This is not a make or break you thing.  This is a way to meet new people.  If you were trying to meet people on a personal level you would know immediately if they were presenting themselves as something they are not.

 

Same holds true.  Relax and be yourself.  Keep it clean, but be yourself.  Yes, I do have to add that little note.  Stop dreading your turn and have fun with it.

 

If you don’t like having the spot light all to yourself, focus it on the others at the table.  Our last table was moving along quite quickly and not a lot of interaction.  So the second to last person was saying that they help businesses save up to 25-30% and it is not chump change. 

 

The previous participants included someone creating scholarships for high school kids, a small business banker, a rental car representative, a technology firm helping with websites and seo and the financial planner.

 

After the gentleman said the savings part I piped up and said, “With that money saved your clients can talk to him for to set up the right small business banking, do personal planning with him, hire her to firm up their website and with the remaining amount create a scholarship.”

 

It broke the ice, allowed everyone to relax and be a bit of a little group.  Conversation was increased after that.  Note – I did not say one thing about me in that scenario.  Networking isn’t about you, it is about the people in front of you.

 

Let people see who you are, not your representation of a title, and they will be more drawn to you and pay more attention to what you have to say which will translate to more communication, beginning of relationships and mutually beneficial business relationships.

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

www.CareerPolish.com

 

Why Do Cover Letters and Mondays Always Bring You Down?

Lexi caresMonday is the most dreaded day of the week.  No one likes a Monday.  We start complaining about it on Sunday.  Anything that goes wrong during the day is instantly blamed on it being Monday.  We continue to berate it all the way through the day until the work day is done.

 

Poor Monday, it never really did anything to you.  It is a necessary day.  Without Monday there would be no Tuesday.  It would love to be the fun Saturday, but it can’t.  Someone has to start the work week.

 

I find a lot of people look at Cover Letters the same way: hate them, dread them or are in fear of them.

 

They do have something in common with Mondays – the more you dread them the harder they are.

 

So let’s go through the process of creating a Cover Letter from a new prospective: let’s look at a Monday like a Saturday.  Let’s have some fun with it.

 

First, let’s break it down to the basics:

 

The Intent

It is simply a piece of paper allowing you to bring out your personality to introduce your resume.  No more, no less.

 

The Format

It is a letter – not an essay or synopsis of your life story.  It is an introductory letter.  It should also have the same look as your resume.  Your letterhead and font should be the same for both.  Consistency builds a brand – your brand.

 

The Message

I am your guy/girl and here is why.  We are not begging for the reader to give us a chance nor are we apologizing for our resume or background.

 

Sounds easy enough, right?

 

Now, let’s start putting it together.

 

Salutation

Often you do not have a name or title to use in addressing the Cover Letter.  No worries, this is not a trap.  It is a matter of convenience.  They don’t want to give a name so that desperate job seekers get a hold of a name or title and bug that poor person to death.

 

There are a few options you can use here.

 

Dear Sirs

Dear Sir or Madam

Dear Hiring Manager

 

-or- here is a radical thought – don’t use a salutation at all!  Instead you can do something like this:

 

Company Name

Address

City, State Zip

 

Re:  Position Name

 

Go right into your first paragraph.

 

What not to use: To Whom It May Concern.  It sounds like you do not care who reads it.  If you don’t care who reads your resume why should they care to read it?

 

The Feel

Before you write one word do your homework, which you should have already done in preparing your resume for the position.  Your resume should already be tweaked depending upon the job and company.  Each position deserves a unique resume – even if it is just tweaking a bit.

 

It may be moving the bullet points around to make sure you have your proof first and foremost in the resume and job descriptions.

 

So, knowing what they want is the first step.

 

The second is getting a feel for the job or company.  This means reading the job posting or their website and listening to your gut.  What feeling do you get when you read it?  Does it sound like fun, does it sound like a behind the scenes position, does the company sound fun or straight-laced and conservative?  Get a feel for it and write in that tone.

 

This helps you “speak their language” and helps them align with you.  We all feel comfortable around people similar to us.

 

The Body

Yes, I am starting with the body of the letter.  I like to write the opening paragraph last.  It is just my way.  I find it easier to introduce the introductory letter once I get a good feel for what I am presenting.

 

So what are you presenting?  Why are you the best candidate?  Why would they want to talk to you?

 

Take your queue from your homework.  What did they stress in the job requirements and preferred candidate qualities?

 

Speak directly to their need.  If they want someone with experience in x, y and z then list out that you have x, y and z.  Then take it a step further.  Demonstrate not only your experience with x, y and z but also your successes and understanding.  Talk the talk and walk the walk.

 

I was in the financial industry for quite some time, if I was applying for a position to go back into the financial position I would speak their language.  Using industry words appropriately let them know that I was part of that industry, I knew it, I lived it and I was good at it.  I understand it.

 

Don’t try to bluff your way on this one.  It doesn’t work.  If you are new to the industry stick to the skill set and accomplishments of it.

 

There are some different things you can do in this area, variations of presentation.  You can utilize a couple of paragraphs or bullet points.  It is up to you.

 

For example if they are looking for someone with experience in leadership, territory growth and managing people you can present as an introduction to the paragraph or as a bullet:

 

“While managing and mentoring a team of x number of people….” Then go on to describe how you were an awesome leader.  Flow into the next point with something like, “Having build a strong team we were able to surpass expectations in growing our territory ….”

 

Or – list is as bullet points:

 

*Leadership*  Speak to their importance of leadership, whether that be working with senior leadership, overseeing several areas or collaborating with internal/external stakeholders.  One or two lines is sufficient.

*Territory Growth* Detail how you grew your territory not just in numbers but also some details of how you accomplished it (new campaigns, targeting new markets etc.)

*Team Management* Detail how large your team was, your leadership style and who was on your team – and how they succeeded with you as their leader.

 

Stop Sweating What You Don’t Have

Let me just say this: the expectations and preferred qualities list is a Christmas list.  This is their ideal candidate; however it does not mean that you have to have every single item on that list of ten.  If you meet seven of the ten then for goodness sakes apply!

 

If they want a certain degree and you do not posses it but have equivalent work experience then focus on the work experience.  Go into a bit of detail letting them know you know your stuff.  A degree is nice but having someone who has been there done that means a lot.  Focus on the positive and be able to sell it.

 

The Dreaded Salary Requirement

When it is asked for you to submit your salary requirement do your homework.  Yes, I hate this too.  It feels like a trap, a way to disqualify you.  Stop sweating it.  My goodness, if you are going to get freaked out about this then we really need to talk before you have an interview.

 

Go to a salary site like Salary.com and do some research on comparable jobs in the area and the range of salaries.  In the cover letter you can indicate that based on your experience and research the range for this position is x-y, which is acceptable to you.  You can also let them know that you know this is a range and would be influenced by other factors including responsibilities and you would like to discuss the position in more detail before giving a definite number.

 

Introduce Yourself

I always compare Cover Letters with Love Letters so saying, “I am submitting my application for the position of X that I saw on career site” sounds a lot like, “my friend said you were cute, do you want do grab a pizza?”

 

Not very flattering or inviting.

 

Again, speak to their need based on what you have.  That could be the length of experience, certain expertise or matching their attitude.  For example:

 

“Having two decades of experience doing x, y and z I look forward to bringing a, b and c to company name in the position of open position.”

 

Or

 

“As a proven industry leader continually surpassing expectations in a, b and c …”

 

Or

 

“What makes an exceptional Account Manager: presence, presentation and professional persistence…”

 

Closing

Thank them for their time in reviewing your resume and let them know that there is more to tell.  This can be something like, “even though my enclose resume speaks directly to x, y and z, there is considerable more to relate.”

 

Let them know that you want to talk to them. Follow that sentence with “I look forward to speaking with you soon to discuss how I can be an integral part of company name in the role of position title.”

 

I normally close with Sincerely, your given name and “enclosure” at the bottom.

 

Now, one final thing – print that sucker out and read it.  Read it backward, from the bottom up and from the end of each sentence to the beginning.

 

We read what we expect to read and often overlook simple spelling or grammatical errors due to this.  That is why you want to read it in an unconventional way to trick your brain out of being lazy.

 

One error, one mistake or one little oops could cost you an opportunity so take the time to really read it.

 

Then send it off and let it go.

 

That’s it.

 

That wasn’t so bad, was it?

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

www.CareerPolish.com

 

*Becky – I hope this helps and thank you for the note!

No One is Just a Just

I attended a fabulous networking event this morning – love, love, loved it! It started with everyone standing and giving their elevator speech, as many networking events do. I was very impressed because, even though a couple people told me they weren’t prepared to give their spiel everyone did pretty well.

I have two thoughts from this experience.

1. You should always be prepared – no matter what, when or size of audience – to give your spiel.
2. Do not use the word “just” within your statement.

As a coach point one is something that I am adamant with when working with my clients. There is no excuse, rhyme or reason for you to not be prepared to network especially when it is a designated networking event.

Honestly if your intent is to build your business, make connections or find the right job then you should have your elevator speech prepared for any situation no matter what. This is such an important point that I will be covering it specifically when I speak to the Indy NAIFA chapter next week on the 19th of January at the Ritz Charles. It deserves it’s own space so I’ll focus the remainder of this article on the second point.

One young lady was giving her speech and she stated, “I just do …” not in a manner of specialization of a certain industry or item aspect, but in the apologetic this-is-all-I-do aspect. No, no no – never demean yourself this way. No one will point fingers and shamed you if you do this; however you will have planted a seed. Unconscious or not that “just” is going to stick.

Let me further illustrate by asking how would you react if someone said to you, “Oh, so you just do x for a living?” Sounds demeaning don’t it?

No one JUST does one thing, I don’t care who you are or what you do. Don’t challenge me on this people, this is what I do for my life’s work! No one is a just. A just can come across as:

 I don’t take pride in what I do
 I don’t know what I do
 I am not interested in connecting with people
 I have nothing to offer potential prospects or employers
 I do not place value in myself or what I do

I’m not saying that it always does communicate one or all of the above messages, but do you really want to take that chance?

Take a moment to review your elevator pitch and make sure there are no “just”s in there; if you find yourself saying then it is a clear indication that you have some re-evaluation to do. What value do you contribute to others? Make sure that is the message that you are delivering to your audience, not just killing time until the appetizers arrive.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Career Coach-Strategist
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.
http://www.CareerPolish.com

In Support of a Bad Self-Introduction

I have given classes and been the guest speaker at events to discuss introductions. The elevator pitch as it is most commonly known. Normally I discuss how to craft this short introduction for a variety of scenarios in a manner that engages your audience. If you can gain interest with your introduction you normally can engage in a conversation which in turn leads to a more solid connection.

Today; however, I will make an argument for the flip side of this. I am an analyzer, I know this and honestly I am okay with it; but what it means for this blog is that I try to see all sides of a situation. I really do try to see the validity of each possible perspective.

As I meet various individuals in different situations I realize there are valid reasons for having a flat intro. This can come in handy so, in an effort to be supportive to those who cling to their intro of a title or who they work for I will attempt to do you justice. So here are some of the reasons that support this notion:

I have no interest in talking to you.

Responding to the question, “And what do you do?” with a response of “I work for a builder.” is a pretty good indication that you have no desire to continue any further with the conversation. If the other party was just being polite and actually has no desire to talk to you either they can honor your unspoken request with a simple response of the non-committal half-noise/half-word of “Ah”.

I have no idea what I do.

Perhaps you have responded that you work for a builder, but it is not that you do not want to talk to the other party but rather you really do not have a clue what it is that you do. It can happen, I was reminded of this again Tuesday, but I digress.

If you have used the “I don’t want to talk to you line” but did not mean it and follow it up with an “I do want to talk to you gesture” such as pulling up a chair or moving a bit closer than the other party might pick up on this and ask, “So what do you do for the builder?” giving you the opportunity to continue.

Responding with some new vague response can clarify the situation, such as “I am a salesman.” Ah-ha! The real reason comes through, it is not that you do not want to talk to the other person, you just have no idea about the topic at hand – you.

If the other party is astute enough to decipher your reasoning they can help you out by saying the non-committal response now, as in “That’s nice.” You are actually helping the other party. This little game of 20-questions-to-figure-you-out can be quite exhausting.

I have enough business, thank you very much.

Perhaps you live in the land of plenty and just have no need for any potential business, yea you. And this strategy of introducing yourself as your title or by the company you work for is just the ticket to make sure pesky potential prospects do not bother you with attempting to get more information on just how you could help them.

I’m not very good at what I do.

By being as non-committal as possible you actually might hide the fact that you stink at your job. If you had to have an in-depth conversation about what you do or how you should bring value to others there is the possibility that the other party could discover that you are hanging on by a thread.

You clever little minx you, no one will ever guess that you are a quarter away from losing your job due to poor performance by being as vague as possible!

I’m extremely awkward and have no idea how to talk to grown ups.

Perfect ploy for those that have not graduated to the adult conversation arena: vague, non-committal responses. Continuing in this way will guarantee you a short evening just in time for you to get back home, rock out to some Michael Bolton, play a few games on the Atari before the Happy Day’s reruns come on and you can slip into you leather’s to pretend to be the Fonz – Aaaaay.

Yes, I suppose there are situations that call for using a flat introduction. Thank goodness those that cling to these elevator speeches, per say, as they allow others in the room to move on to those that actually want to engage in conversation.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Career Coach-Strategist
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.
http://www.CareerPolish.com