7 Steps To Recovering From A Setback At Work
Apt for me at this moment
7 Steps To Recovering From A Setback At Work
William Arruda , CONTRIBUTOR
I write about personal branding.
Setbacks are a normal part of the path to success. Unless your role is to serve as a mindless cog in a wheel of predictable work, you will encounter setbacks – many of them – throughout your career. Even the biggest superstars at work experience impediments.
Maybe a project doesn’t go as planned, or your star employee whom you have mentored for years resigns. Maybe you had to endure public criticism from your boss, or a promotion you were counting on just didn’t happen. Some setbacks are small, having a minimum impact on your ability to move forward. Others can make you feel like the world is crumbling. Most fall somewhere in between. Regardless of the setback, there are techniques that can help you shed the disappointment, prop yourself up and move forward with enthusiasm. Here’s the seven-step process for using obstacles to advance you – not define you.
1. Build a strong foundation beforehand
Recovering from a misfortune begins before the situation even happens. The more solid your footing, the harder it will be to knock you off your perch, and the easier it will be to recover and adjust. This means maintaining good physical health (getting plenty of sleep, healthful food and regular exercise). It also means that you need a support system – resources that you know will be there to help. Having a strong foundation will also help you keep obstacles in perspective.
“2. Acknowledge it. Own it. Feel it*It’s OK to feel the negative emotions that come with the setback. In fact, it is essential. Pretending you aren’t disappointed, frustrated or angry won’t make it go away. Acknowledge how you feel, but steer clear from blaming yourself or others. Take the time you need to process. For some setbacks you will need more than just a brief pause to recover. Acting in haste may lead you to choices you soon regret, so resist the temptation to immediately send that blunt email or turn in your resignation.
3. Change your mindset
Setbacks are actually progress in disguise. Think back to the most powerful things you learned in life, and I’ll bet many of those enlightenments are connected to a setback. In fact, you can likely connect a lot of your success and confidence to the growth that came from your most challenging experiences. Of course, hindsight makes those setbacks seem inconsequential – but they likely felt a lot heavier at the time. Remind yourself that the aftermath is temporary and will lead to valuable outcomes.
4. Connect with others
When you’re trying to push through a roadblock, solitude is your enemy. You need support. But not from just anyone. You don’t want to reach out to the person who will turn this into a pity party. You need to surround yourself with people who are objective, positive and focused on solutions, not problems. Seek out the can-do people in your network. Confide in them, and enlist them to help you overcome your obstacle.
Devise a plan that will minimize the impact of the setback and get you back into the fast lane after your temporary breakdown. This step can also involve others. Seek feedback and advice from trusted colleagues and mentors for ways to get moving again. Look at resources on the web and pose questions to relevant LinkedIn groups. Get the information you need and put together a plan.
After you’ve had time to process the emotions, gather the facts, and recruit your A Team, you’re ready to move forward with your plan, measuring progress along the way. This step will energize you. It helps wash away the negative emotions associated with the setback and gives you something positive on which to focus.
Once you’re back on the right track, pause to take some time to learn from this setback. True learning is devoid of judging or blaming. Ask yourself what you gained and how you can prevent the problem from happening again. Some of my executive coaching clients keep a learning journal where they record everything they have taken away from the small and large challenges they encounter on a daily basis. Valuable tools like these remind you of the temporary nature of setbacks – and your perpetual ability to push through them.
William Arruda is the CEO of Reach Personal Branding and host of the Reach Interview Series.
*Here’s the Right Way to Make Unpopular Decisions
by Geoff Colvin*
Illustration by Sam Island for Fortune Magazine
How to keep your team on your side, even in difficult times.
When Air France’s leaders last fall announced a plan to cut 2,900 jobs, 3% of the total, they knew the move would be unpopular. But maybe they misjudged how unpopular. Later that day dozens of workers stormed a company conference room and ripped the shirts off top executives, some of whom desperately clambered bare-chested over a chain-link fence to escape the mob.
Contrast that disaster with events at Twitter TWTR 1.04% at that same time. Newly installed CEO Jack Dorsey, a founder, said he would have to cut 335 jobs, 8% of the total. He also announced he was giving one-third of his own Twitter stock, worth $200 million, to the employee equity pool. No riots ensued, and the cuts became yesterday’s news.
The art of doing the unpopular lies in striking a balance, and mastering that art may become a necessity for more business leaders this year. Ominously, U.S. companies have cut more jobs so far in 2016 than at the same point in any year since 2009, says outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas, and as markets stagnate, investors are getting impatient for more profits. Massively unpopular decisions can paralyze a business, yet fear of displeasing constituents must never get in the way of doing what must be done. The most successful leaders solve the conundrum in three ways.
1. Ask for help
When Dropbox CEO Drew Houston canceled or reduced several employee perks earlier this year, he salved the wound by admitting management’s failings, such as commissioning an expensive statue of the company’s symbol, a panda. He also asked employees to “spot other ways for Dropbox to save” and share them with management. Jack Welch was deeply unpopular in his early years as General Electric’s GE -0.36% CEO in the 1980s, when he cut more than 100,000 jobs. Yet he embraced employees through his celebrated Workout sessions, where staff presented ideas for eliminating pointless tasks.
2. Show personal commitment
Whole Foods WFM -0.81% co-founder and co-CEO John Mackey pays himself $1 a year, so his prosperity rises and falls with the company’s stock. When poor performance forces him to make unpopular decisions, employees and investors know he’s suffering too.
3. Remember that people want to be led
Even when followers are unhappy, they’re willing to tolerate unpopular decisions that are part of a strong, clear plan that they understand. Lou Gerstner, the outsider CEO who rescued IBM IBM 0.28% in the 1990s, needed years to win over employees and some investors. But they gave him a chance because they realized that only bold action could restore the company to greatness.
The good news is that poor decisions can often be fixed. Air France’s leaders realized they had tipped the unpopularity balance too far and reduced the planned cuts by two-thirds. The stock is since up 16%.
Check out the new Fortune 500 at fortune.com/fortune500 for company profiles, financial data, stock quotes, CEO videos, interactive graphics, breaking news, and more.
A version of this article appears in the June 15, 2016 issue of Fortune with the headline “The Art of Doing the Unpopular.”
COPING WITH FAILURE
If You’re Unhappy With Your Work, Change It: 4 Steps to Get Started
You’re not the only one who’s feeling less-than-inspired by your work these days.
BY YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR COUNCIL
Brendon Schrader is founder of Antenna, a Minneapolis-based marketing firm that delivers experienced marketing professionals to companies of all sizes.
A recent Gallup poll found that only 30 percent of U.S. workers are engaged in their job. The other 70 percent of workers reported they were either “not engaged” (defined as “checked out”) or “actively disengaged” (described as “undermining what their engaged coworkers accomplish”).
I find those numbers shocking, and I think this dissatisfaction is due to a broken work model that exists in many companies. Here’s my story of how I set out to fix work for myself and in turn, began to help fix work for others. If your work isn’t working, I hope my story will inspire you to make a change.
For years, I was focused on landing my dream job. I worked through college. I commuted two hours each way for an entry-level role just to work in the sports and entertainment industry. I slept on friends’ couches in order to pursue every opportunity that came my way. And after graduating with my MBA, I was hired into a leadership development program inside one of most innovative corporations in the world. In my mind, I’d finally made it.
I climbed the corporate ladder. I moved into new roles and gained experiences that most marketers my age only dreamed of. With those experiences came high expectations, lots of hours and a glimpse of what my future may look like.
Was it exciting? Definitely. And it fit with my life at that time. But as I looked ahead, I realized I didn’t see it working for me in the long term. I saw people above me who were overworked, underfamilied, and unhappy in their roles.
Back then, no one was talking about flexibility. I wanted to create a life and career that was more integrated and flexible and allowed me to be a fully present husband and father. I started to doubt whether the traditional corporate track could give me that.
Everything changed for me one day in the small, mountainous village of Murren, Switzerland. My wife and I had saved up for the vacation of a lifetime in Europe. I made the mistake of checking my work email. There was a crisis back at the office, and I spent the rest of the day staring at my laptop instead of the breathtaking scenery of the Alps right outside my window.
That was the catalyst. I knew it was time to make a change. It was now or never.
Building a New Way to Work
As I started thinking about my next step, I thought life as a free agent might be the answer for me. But none of the existing contractor roles seemed ideal. I saw contractors who worked at traditional staffing firms and had no support, benefits or training. I also saw self-employed independent consultants who struggled to find the right amount of work to support themselves consistently year-round, without intense heavy periods or work shortages.
That’s when I identified a gap in the market that I could fill. In order to be nimble and flexible, modern marketing organizations need access to talented, vetted consultants. In order to create a flexible, balanced life, a lot of modern marketers are looking for a career based on contract work. I started Antenna to meet both those needs. Antenna is a community of marketers who are focused on contract consulting work as a career choice. We mobilize this community to provide marketing leaders with the right person for the job at the right time.
I’m glad I spent my Swiss vacation locked in a hotel room on my laptop. That day opened my eyes to the changes I needed to make—and to the opportunities that were right in front of me.
4 Ways to Make Your Job Work for You
If you’re considering making a change in your work life, consider these initial steps:
First, decide why you want flexible work. What are you looking for that you don’t have in your current job—more control over the projects you take on? More variety in your work? More flexibility to manage your own schedule beyond the typical 9-to-5? Once you understand your “why,” it becomes easier to map out the steps to get there.
Next, do an honest self-assessment. Consider your personal strengths and weaknesses. How can you use your strengths to create a work life that supports your “why?”
Start to focus on what you want to build. Do you want to strike out on your own, or work for an employer but propose a schedule that helps you meet your goals and fulfill your “why?” Get specific.
Hone your story. Whether you’re building a new business or just pitching your new idea to your manager, it’s important that you can tell a clear story. Connect your “why” and your “what” to create a compelling vision.
Work is changing. And in 10 years, I hope the numbers show that we all feel better about our work. At Antenna, we’re starting by making work better for our customers, one day at a time. What are you doing to improve your own work life?
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.
CSC GETS APPROVAL FOR FUNCTIONING AS BHARAT BILL PAYMENT OPERATING UNIT
The Reserve Bank of India has accorded license to CSC SPV for functioning as Bharat Bill Payment Operating Unit (BBPOU). Once the license is made operational, which may take about 3 months and integration with National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI), CSCs across the country would be able to facilitate collection of various bills of the customer near their place of residence.
benefits for Customer:
Allow to facilitate ‘anytime anywhere payment system’ to customer through CSCs and other such outlets.
To provide accessible bill payment system to large segment of banked and unbanked population.
Will provide interoperability so that customer can pay any bill at single point.
Bill payment service points – CSC would become ubiquitous service points for all consumers.
Besides providing convenience to customer, the bill payment facility will significantly enhance footfalls in the CSC and establish their creditability as reliable bill payment access point. This would also enhance their business and income and make them sustainable.
Media coverage on the story is available at:
Want to Become an Overnight Success? You’ve Got Years of Work Ahead of You
Between media and its various components, from a 24-hour news cycle to social media, coupled with technology in general, we have created an “I want it now” society. We seek immediate gratification, as almost anything in the universe that we desire is just a quick mouse click away, and anyone we want to connect with is just a text, email or tweet away. We no longer place a lot of value on that whole tenet of “patience is a virtue."
In the business arena, this is intensified, as we celebrate “overnight sensations." However, when it comes to business, what’s often left out of the story- with a handful of exceptions — is that the overnight success was decades in the making.
Yes, while the media gives some level of expert credibility, most of those who seem to gain notoriety “overnight” often have long and storied histories of doing work in their existing business or gaining experience elsewhere before finding their success celebrated. I know that in my own experiences, I had completed nearly $2 billion in transactions but wasn’t considered an expert until my first TV appearance. After my book, I had “appeared out of nowhere," except for that whole working my butt off for more than 16 years thing…
So, I wanted to give you some best practices that you can learn from many of the successful people that I have met, so that you can become an “overnight sensation” just like them:
1. Doing the work
A willingness to do whatever it takes — and not complain about it — is more of an art than a science. People who are overnight sensations simply do what others are unwilling to. They don’t try — they do.
While others dabble, the overnight sensation dives deep, works hard and works smart.
2. Staying focused
The overnight sensation knows the value of sticking to what works and doing it over and over again instead of chasing every new opportunity. While new things are fun, focus and consistency creates success. This also means sticking it out in and through tough times.
This focus creates relationships, awareness and mastery. It also helps get past the extreme highs and lows that frequently plague the early days of entrepreneurship — and pop-up from time to time down the road, too.
Overnight sensations know that sometimes “no” means “not right now” and not “never." They are willing to follow-back up on opportunities, continue to add value to clients and relationships and to stay diligent when it matters the most.
When they encounter a roadblock, they climb over it, around it or drill a hole right through it. While they may have bad days, over the long-haul, they keep pushing ahead.
4. Being a mensch
“Mensch” is a Yiddish word that roughly translates into “being generous in spirit." Many of the overnight sensations that I know believe in collaboration over competition. They bring opportunities to those that they think are good resources and are always ready to lend a helping hand.
5. Cultivating relationships
Going hand in hand with being a mensch as noted above, overnight sensations are great at creating and nurturing relationships with good people. Having strong allies allows for rising tides to lift all boats. And this often means giving without any expectations of returns and keeping in contact over long periods, as real relationships don’t happen overnight, either.
Being an overnight sensation takes time. It could take years or even decades of slogging through successes and failures, taking two steps forward and one step back.
The reality is that there is no magic bullet for success. Success, even if it appears to do so, doesn’t just happen overnight. Hopefully, you can learn from the above and follow these tips to be an overnight sensation years in the making.
Determination is the strength that will enable you
To pass the barrier of useless thoughts in order
To create positive thoughts and to be successful
In whatever you wish.
It comes from within and its partner is patience.
Patience teaches you not to push but rather to wait and appreciate the game of life instead,
knowing that nothing remains the same, and everything will change at some point.
We Would Not Have The Wisdom Knowledge We Now Possess,
Were It Not For The Setbacks We Have Faced, The Mistakes We Have Made
The Suffering We Have Endured…
Once For All, We Must Come To Realize That Pain Is A Teacher
Failure Is The Highway To Success…
Possibility or Impossibility doesnot depend on the size of our goal
But on the size of our faith
Keep faith to make everything possible, There is only one success
If you try to outrun life, you miss much of its beauty.
Instead of racing ahead to cover more ground,
see the treasures that are right here and now.
Don’t You Dare Say She’s Just A Girl…
She doesn’t trust easily- you can see that in the distance she creates between herself and everyone around her, but she has much love to offer, and you can see it in the kindness that’s in the smiles she gives out to everyone around her. She has millions of chaotic galaxies of thoughts, thousands of tangled up worlds of words and places in her mind, and you can see it in the way her eyes always seem lost, like they are somewhere else. She always wants to be somewhere else, it shows in the way she’s always rushing and moving, the way she’s always restless.
Life never went easy on her, and she didn’t go easy on herself either. She is strong and you can see it in her eyes, you can sense it in her voice. She believes that her body can physically rebuild and heal itself. I think that’s because she knew how to recover by herself after life had broken her. She knows how it’s like to be under-appreciated. So if you can’t see the beauty in her quirks, if you don’t think that maybe she might be a little piece of magic, don’t you dare and say that she is just a girl; because she’s a masterpiece. — author unknown
Kill or Get Killed !!
Founder/CEO – SUCCESSWRKS & HRforYOU and Co Founder/Director – Skillzot & Chrozon
No, this post is not about Wild Wild West or a James Bond movie. This actually is the reality of corporate life at higher levels. All the great talks around Team Work and Collaboration during the early years of your career finally take you to a level where killing or getting killed are the only two feasible options.
Is it really that bad at the top? Ask some of the people who have actually experienced it in their lives. And they will also tell you that the reality is far far different from the rosy picture of the top that gets portrayed everywhere which in a way makes us aspire to reach there.
This would make anybody wonder. Ideally as you move up, the journey should be more exciting. Unfortunately, in the corporate world, this does not apply. Ultimately you have to reach the top of the pyramid and as you move up it starts becoming narrower. There is less space and if you want to stay there, either you start throwing others down or they do the same to you. Isn’t that simple?
To make the problem worse, all those who move up, want to stay there and do not vacate the spot till whatever time possible. It is not like conquering a peak and then vacating it for others to conquer. You start enjoying being there… so you have to keep pushing all others down every now and then who aspire to dethrone you.
Experience real world learning…
The reason I am writing this piece is to make people aware of the harsh realities of corporate life. During my coaching and learning sessions, I meet huge number of people who are either not aware of this reality or are heavily underprepared to face the same. All of you, who get excited by those titles of CEO, COO, President, Director, VP, etc and want to have them against your name; take out your guns now an start preparing to shoot. Not only this, also start identifying on whose target you already are?
Brevity is the soul of wit. Enjoy these fresh two-liners with some genuine observations:-
The difference between in-laws and outlaws?
Outlaws are wanted.
Alcohol is a perfect solvent:
It dissolves marriages, families and careers.
A fine is a tax for doing wrong.
A tax is a fine for doing well.
Archaeologist: Someone whose career lies in ruins.
There are two kinds of people who don’t say much:
Those who are quiet and those who talk a lot.
They say that alcohol kills slowly.
So what? Who’s in a hurry?
Alcohol and calculus don’t mix.
Never drink and derive
One nice thing about egotists:
They don’t talk about other people.
7 RISK MANAGEMENT MISTAKES YOU ARE MAKING RIGHT NOW
*“The key difference between grandmasters and amateurs in chess is that grandmasters focus on avoiding mistakes and amateurs try to win quickly”
Organisations can spend huge amounts of money on obtaining risk management software that implements complicated frameworks and models. They can also spend huge amount of resources on hiring consultants to help them implement and understand such frameworks. However, time and time again we see organisations fail at managing risks, and often these examples are publicly visible such as the global economic crisis, British petroleum oil spill and VW recalls just to name a few.
The reason given for such failures is that the world has changed and conventional risk-management techniques are not sufficient to cope with the changing environment. These reasons are often cited by consultants or software vendors who in all likeliness are trying to promote their own risk software or service as a substitute. In our opinion the real reason why organisations frequently fail at managing risks properly is because of the following 7 mistakes.
7 Risk Management Mistakes
1. Using historical data as an indicator for future events
Managers often use hindsight as foresight when determining the probability of risks, however, research has shown that future events often have very little relation to past events. In fact, it is often said that it is better to use a coin toss while determining the probability of an event than using historical data because at least with a coin toss the success rate is 50%.
You will also find that the term “unprecedented event” is often used as an excuse when an unexpected event occurs that an organisation is unprepared for. This is mostly a side effect of having a fixation with historical data and relying on it to predict the probability and severity of future events. The truth is that today’s world is changing at a fantastic pace and filled with complex interdependencies and socioeconomic randomness, consequently the effects of events either do not eventuate as expected or cause a huge reaction (Black Swan event) which is nearly impossible to mitigate.
Instead of relying on historical data, the organisation must rely on the knowledge and experience of its employees who understand the business and the environment it operates in to determine the insights required to predict future events and their probability.
2. Not searching for hidden risks
It is commonplace to see organisations conduct risk workshops to determine business risks. Although this technique is a good initiative to get the ball rolling to unearth obvious risks but it is not effective in determining important risks that are hidden away intentionally or unintentionally by employees of the organisation.
There are several factors why employees may not report potential risks. They may not be aware that a risky situation exists, they may assume that the organisation is already aware of the risk, or worse, and this is the most serious factor, they may hold back the information on purpose. The later may be the case if the organisation imposes harsh penalties on those who are responsible for the risk eventuating and in such a situation those responsible choose not to report such risks.
The organisation must educate and make it easy and transparent for its employees to report risks, it must also provide incentives (preferably as a KPI) that promotes the reporting of risks within the organisation.
3. Spending too much time predicting extreme events
Spending a lot of time in determining extreme events (Black Swan events) can be a huge waste of time and resources. The reason for that is firstly, organisations have a very poor track record in predicting such events, secondly, by focusing too much time on these events the organisation may lose sight of other more probably risks which would cause more damage than extreme events ever would.
Hence, rather than spending time in predicting the probability of such extreme but rare events it is more effective to focus on the consequences of the more probable events. This allows the organisation to measure how it would be able to cope when there are moderate changes in its environment. In simple terms, if the organisation is unable to withstand a minor storm then it is unnecessary to determine how it would cope in the face of a hurricane.
4. Ignoring the psychological aspects of risk framing
The way a risk is framed may cause two managers to come to completely different conclusions about the consequences of that risk. For example in a research participants were much more likely to invest in a stock where the chances that they would lose all their money was once every 30 years as opposed to investing in a stock where there was a 3.3% chance that would lose a certain amount each year. The chance of losing some money each year sounded more risky to the participants even though statistically they meant the same thing.
Care must be taken when framing risks so that the person making the judgement is not swayed into going towards a particular conclusion.
5. Carrying out Risk Management independent of business objectives
Many organisations go on a risk discovery crusade in which they try to uncover every single risk under the sun, however they do this without first defining or understanding the business objectives. Organisational objective or goals act as a compass for all organisational efforts and risk management is not any different. Risk management must be used to uncover any threats or opportunities that help the organisation prepare and achieve its objectives.
For example an organisation’s objective maybe to reduce costs by outsourcing production of certain products to an external supplier. In such a situation, management should direct its efforts in identifying and managing all risks related to outsourcing production to an external supplier. Now consider that the organisation drops the objective and decides to bring the production in house again. All risks associated with outsourcing shall be dropped as well because they were directly related to a business objective. Similarly all risks in the organisation must be related to some concrete business objective, otherwise the risk may not merit assessment and should be removed from the risk register.
6. Believing that all risks are created equal
Quantitative analysis conducted using 3X3 matrices can look very scientific and provide quick and easy results for complex risk questions. However, this leads to oversimplification and as a result the organisation fails to distinguish clearly between greater and lesser risks because all risks end up in either the “High” bucket or the “Medium” bucket.
An organisation can overcome such a situation by providing clear and measurable instructions to managers when conducting such assessments. For example some organisations quantify risk tolerance by providing a dollar value associated with each financial impact, or number of hours of work lost in case of a safety impact. Some organisations specify that high risks may only be classified if it requires senior management involvement or the risk causes disruption to the overall business objectives.
7. Failure to communicate effectively
A manager may be able to navigate through all the pitfalls stated previously but if the manager fails to communicate effectively to the board or the CEO then none of the above gains matter. This is because the people who eventually make the decision about the risk need to clearly understand the severity of the risk and the actions required to control such a risk. The risk system must be able to clearly and effectively summarise and communicate the information so that information is understood by experts and non experts alike and key decisions can be made in a timely fashion.
In the end we should keep in mind that the biggest risk to risk management is us. Human beings consistently overestimate their abilities and underestimate what can go wrong. Hence, we should overcome the urge to make decisions based on our intuition but rather rely on our knowledge and objective criteria available to us and make the best decision possible.
If You Hear This In A Job Interview, Run Away
Liz Ryan , CONTRIBUTOR
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
A job interview is a tough assignment, because you have to do several things at once. On a job interview you’re talking about the job that someone is trying to fill. You’re sharing your relevant experience and trying to understand your hiring manager’s need. You have a lot on your mind. At the same time, you’re checking out the employer.
Are they smart people, and are they ethical? Do you feel that you can trust them? It’s essential to answer these questions before you take the job, after all!
There are a few “knockout items” that should give you major pause if you hear them while you’re interviewing, because they suggest that no matter what else happens during your interview process, this is not the best job for you.
One knockout item goes like this:
You: What is the salary range for this position? We should make sure we’re in the same ballpark so that we don’t waste anyone’s time.
Manager or Recruiter: We haven’t established a salary range for this position yet.
No no no! That’s a lie. That’s simply not true, because in order to begin interviewing people you have to establish a salary range. No company, large or small, creates a job ad or a job spec without a clear salary range. If they say they haven’t set a salary range for the position yet, they are lying to you.
What else will they lie to you about?
There is no good reason for any employer to keep its salary range a secret. The only reason to keep salary range quiet is that they don’t want to tip their hand and tell you the range in case you might accept a lower job offer than the top of the range they’ve already decided on.
Well, it’s a negotiation, so you will have to have your own number ready to share. That number is your target salary, not your current or past salaries. Your current and past earnings are nobody’s business but your own.
The most ethical and talent-aware employers publish their salary ranges in their job ads, but any employer that leads through trust will tell you whether your target salary range overlaps with their target salary range, or not. If they tell you “We can’t say, because we haven’t set a salary range for this position yet” run away!
If they insist on learning your current or past salary, get out of there! The talent market is good right now and lots of employers are hiring. You don’t have time to waste with people who want to lie to you and cheat you.
Remember that not everyone deserves your talents. Only the people who get you, deserve you!
The Biggest Mistake You’re Making When Introducing Yourself
Introductions can be inherently high-pressure and awkward, can’t they? No matter how outgoing and vivacious you consider yourself, it can be tough to condense who you are and what you do into a few crisp, concise, and impactful sentences.
So, when it comes to shaking hands and introducing yourself to someone new, you likely default to something simple and standard like, “I’m Joe, and I’m the sales manager at Company XYZ.”
At first glance, it seems effective. It’s short, sweet, and it serves the intended purpose—sharing your name and your job title.
But look closer and you’ll notice that it’s missing something important. While it may seem complete and polished, it’s really lacking one crucial element that helps to take your introductions to the next level.
What’s that? Quite simply, the value that you bring to the table.
Why is sharing value important?
Sure, spitting out your job title is a key part of an introduction, but it’s really only a slice (and, often a somewhat ambiguous slice) of the whole pie. So, you want to make sure you emphasize not only what you do, but why you do it.
This is important for everyone, but particularly for those of us with job titles or occupations that don’t immediately provide an adequate picture of what we do day in and day out. For example, when I used to introduce myself as only a “writer,” most people would respond with something along the lines of, “Oh, so you’re writing a book?”
I can understand their assumption. But, this is actually pretty far from the truth—I’ve never written a book, and I don’t plan to in the near future.
So, instead of sticking with the tried and true introduction of, “I’m Kat, and I’m a writer,” I’ve expanded things just a touch to say something like, “I’m Kat, and I’m a writer who helps businesses and brands engage their audiences through thoughtful blog posts and articles.”
See the difference? Instead of just firing off a job title, I’m giving my conversational partner a more specific look at not only what I do, but also why it’s important.
How can you improve your own introduction?
When you’re so used to getting through your introduction as fast as humanly possible, I’ll admit that this tactic can feel a little unnatural (and possibly even a little arrogant) at first—so adequate preparation is important for making sure that your introduction sounds exactly as you want it to.
Follow these three quick tips to come up with your own introduction that’s polished, impactful, and representative of all of the great work you do.
1. Determine what you bring to the table.
First things first, you need to narrow your focus and determine the most important thing that you want to share with the people you meet. A powerful introduction doesn’t require a step-by-step breakdown of your entire career trajectory—it’s important that you zone in on the key nuts and bolts.
Sit down with a notepad and jot down the key functions of your position. Getting everything out of your brain and down on paper will help you clearly see the things that should be emphasized.
2. Script your introduction.
With notepad in hand, now it’s time to start scripting a few different introductions you can test drive. Yes, you should actually write out the whole introduction. It’ll make the following step that much easier.
Also, remember that brevity is important here. Nobody wants to listen to a long-winded tale of all of your skills and competencies—try to keep your introduction to two or three sentences at most.
3. Read it aloud.
Now that you have a few different alternative introductions scribbled down, it’s time to pick the best one. To do this, you’ll want to read your options aloud.
This is a necessary step to ensure that your introduction sounds natural and genuine, and not forced and robotic. We don’t always write the way we speak, so it’s important that you actually say those words to catch any spots where you get tripped up.
Finally, it’s time to practice. Commit your introduction to memory, so that you can fire it off (with a smile and direct eye contact, no less) at the drop of a hat. You’ll be left with a short—but incredibly powerful—introduction that’s sure to leave a positive impression on everyone you meet.