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William Arruda

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Were You Always Like That?

Networking Event Call it an elevator pitch. Call it a self-introduction. Describing ourselves is one of the most challenging things we are called upon to do.  Some people stumble through. Some people say way too much. Some people wrap themselves in buzzwords related to their area of expertise. Fact is, most folks simply aren’t comfortable talking about themselves, whether in live situations, on paper, or in online profiles. 

Yet, in today’s ever more connected and competitive world, crafting a self-introduction has never been more important. Not only does it relate your expertise and convey your unique promise of value, but it's also key to inviting and encouraging people to connect with you.

At recent career transition strategy session, I asked attendees to introduce themselves, and include one key piece of information they believed a decision maker should know about them. What I didn’t tell them was that I’d be asking why they shared what they did! Frankly, I was as surprised as they to see what happened! Nearly everyone shared information in a relatively bland and safe way, many wrapping their message in some form of corporate speak. Yet, in every case we discovered that by digging a little deeper, people had exciting, even compelling reasons for what they shared.

In one case, a young project manager said he works hard to exceed expectations, leading me to think, “Yeah, you and everybody else!” But I didn’t say that. Instead, I asked, “Were you always like that? Give me an example from high school” In response, proudly told us how he had competed with several of his scouting friends to become an Eagle Scout, earning the distinction at 15 (about two years ahead of the usual age). As he told us, his energy increased leading to a noticeably enhanced emotional connection! In the following “ah ha” moment, he realized he could craft a new introduction to convey that he is, and has always been a high achiever, using his Eagle Scout achievement as well as work examples.

Frankly, part of my motivation doing for doing this exercise came from reading Be Sharp: Tell Me About Yourself in Great Introductions and Professional Bios, by Paula Asinof and Mina Brown. In discussing how to craft a powerful self-introduction, the authors point to three core elements:

1. The Essence Factor: A short professional description that best captures the scope of your experience.

2. The Guru Factor: A statement of any special expertise you bring.

3. The Star Factor: A statement of attributes and/or abilities that set you apart and cause others to admire you.

Putting these elements into your communications about yourself makes you memorable, clear, specific and compelling.  Even more, your ability to relate your story with energy establishes an emotional bridge that makes it easier for people to connect with you.

Cross-posted at Threshold Consulting.

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Dubbed 'The Personal Branding Guru’ by Entrepreneur magazine, William Arruda is a pioneering brand strategist, speaker, author and founder of Reach Personal Branding. He is credited with turning the concept of personal branding into a global industry.

William delivers keynotes and workshops on the transformative power of personal branding for some of the world’s most successful companies. He energizes and motivates his audiences—and his private clients include some of the world’s most influential leaders. As a thought-leader, William is a sought-after spokesperson on personal branding, social media and leadership. He has appeared on BBC TV, the Discovery Channel and Fox News Live and he’s been featured in countless publications, including Time Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and the New York Times. William is the coauthor of the bestselling book Career Distinction. He is a member of the International Coach Federation and the National Speakers Association. He holds a Master’s Degree in Education.