As a career coach, one of the activities I spend a lot of time on with clients is their use of language. How we talk about ourselves, and what we say to describe our skills and experience, has a huge impact on whether people want to engage with us, especially if we’re looking for referrals to a job or freelance opportunity.
Here are a few simple ways you can be more interesting when you find yourself in those situations when people ask you, “and what do you do?”
1. Instead of using a passive verb (“I am a writer/graphic designer/marketing manager”), use an active verb. Try telling people what you actually do instead of stating your title or past title, which does not create a conversation. In doing this, you may need to just select one aspect of your professional portfolio, but that’s okay. You may end up with five or six alternative statements you can use, according to the situation.
2. Find new and compelling words to use. Words are fun! The English language has so many synonyms that there’s no excuse for using the same tired terms everyone else does. Devoting just a few minutes to identifying new language for your accomplishments and skills can give a big boost to your personal presentation.
3. Think about describing what you do in terms of its results or impact. There’s always a larger purpose for how your function influences the enterprise, and using a few words to reference that helps your listener understand and connect.
4. If you’re looking for a job, be prepared to assist your listener with a concise and accurate description of the sort of position and accountabilities you’re seeking, maybe even with examples of the kind of company or category you are targeting. Make it as easy as possible for someone to help you.
Implementing these tips requires just a little time, experimentation, and practice. Find a friend, colleague, or coach to help you. In my experience, it’s really worth it. When someone’s interest is piqued and they truly hear you, a conversation develops, and then some connection may emerge that will genuinely help your quest!
Tell me if you have other tips that have worked for you. Or, if you’d like some help with your own personal pitch, let me know.