Power Networking Blog

Monday, 08 August 2016 06:56

What is the best self-introduction?

Power Networking HandshakeA one-size-fits-all response doesn’t work with this question. The best self introduction is the one that you are comfortable delivering and that serves your purpose.

In my article How High Does Your Elevator Go?, I suggest that you prepare several different versions of your elevator pitch i.e. self-introduction, as well as different time lengths.

How long should your elevator pitch be? Good question! Answer … It depends. Not much of an answer at first glance, but it really depends on the norms or the culture for location or venue of the networking session. Presenting your 30 minute curriculum vitae wouldn’t likely go over very well in a round-robin style of group introduction where the expectation is 30 seconds, not 30 minutes.

Many referral networking breakfast/luncheon groups based on the BNI (Business Networking International) model, limit their members to 30 second elevator pitches. The more members, the longer the activity takes, but at least it gives everyone an opportunity to speak.

The problem is that many people get so used to delivering a 30 second infomercial about themselves that they can’t adapt to being given a longer time allotment. Another problem that I see often is that many people create their elevator pitch around their business or what they do for a living. While that may be great for a business or workplace networking opportunity, not so in a social gathering or perhaps an event that has no connection to their career or profession.

I’m of the belief that you should have multiple versions of your self-introduction that you can pull out of your networking toolbox at a moments notice.

Let’s differentiate self-introductions based on large group settings vs one-to-one.

Power Networking for Shy People: Tips & Techniques for Moving from Shy to Sly! by Rae StonehouseHere is a short excerpt from my book Power Networking for Shy People: Tips & Techniques for Moving from Shy to Sly! on the subject of personal branding and developing your unique elevator pitch. You want to be memorable.  The advice provided is in relation to self-introducing to a large group.

Power Networking Logistics:

  1. Answer the question … “Who am I?”
  2. Develop a personal brand. What do you want the public to know about you?

What do you stand for?

If you were asked to describe yourself in one word or perhaps a few, what would they be? If I were to ask a colleague or friend of yours the same question, would they offer the same words that you do?

Power Networking Logistics:

  1. What words would you use to describe yourself?
  2. Answer the question … “What do I stand for?”
  3. Ask friends and colleagues in your existing network what words they would use to describe you.
  4. Ask your friends and colleagues if they believe that you “walk your talk.”
  5. If they reply “No, you don’t”, what will you now do with this information?

Your USP:

Your unique selling proposition (a.k.a. unique selling point, universal selling point or USP) is a marketing concept used to differentiate yourself from your competitors or others in the market place.

Some good current examples of products with a clear USP are:

Some unique propositions that were pioneers when they were introduced:

  • Domino’s Pizza: “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less—or it’s free.”
  • FedEx: “When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight”
  • M&M’s: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand”
  • Metropolitan Life: “Get Met, It Pays”

Your challenge is to develop a USP that on one hand is short and to the point, yet is clear enough that it captures the essence of your business and will stick in the mind of whoever you are sharing it with. Having it prepared in advance, believing in it and being able to recite it with a moment’s notice will go a long way in reducing your anxiety and fear which are all part of shyness.

I would also suggest researching your competitors or others that are in a similar business that are not necessarily your competitors to see if they have chosen a similar USP as you have. I am aware of two business coaches that chose a USP that had only one word that was different. That one word totally changed the context of the USP but it really upset one of the coaches accusing the other of stealing her idea, even though they had been developed independent of each other.

Then there is the one-to-one self-introduction that is commonplace in any networking event. I have seen many people deliver their elevator pitch as described above. And I have done so myself many times. I’ve decided though, that it comes across as rather stilted.

I believe it is much better to develop yet another version of your elevator pitch, a more personal one. This would be used when you are meeting someone for the first time at a networking opportunity. It should be short and sweet and provide enough information for the other person to get curious and ask you questions. Once again, your introduction should be consistent with the event or situation that you are networking in. I like to conclude my intro with a quick question. That allows me to provide further info without sounding like I’m a walking, talking infomercial.


At a Toastmasters function: “Hi there, I’m Rae Stonehouse. I’m a DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster) and a Past District Governor. I’m from Flying Solo Toastmasters in Kelowna, British Columbia. How about you?”

At a local business networking event: “Hi there, I’m Rae Stonehouse. My business is Okanagan Help4Biz and I provide solutions to problems that many small businesses face. How’s your business going?”

At a different local business networking event: “Hi there, I’m Rae Stonehouse aka Mr. Emcee. I’m a professional cat juggler. Metaphorically speaking of course! As an event organizer I take the hundreds of ideas that are flying through the air when organizing an event and I make sense of them.”

At yet another local networking event: “Hi there, I’m Rae Stonehouse and I’m an author, speaker and speech coach. Do you do any public speaking?”

In conclusion, I would suggest creating several versions of your self-introductions. Try them out. Practice saying them out load in advance so that you are comfortable saying your intro. If it works, use it again. If it is uncomfortable, try changing it a little.

Go forth and introduce yourself …

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