Updated: Sep 13
Introducing yourself to a crowd can be overwhelming. When you are announcing yourself, hoping to forge a lasting networking relationship, you have an incredible opportunity to be remarkable - in less than a minute.
In the business arena, you will often find occasions where you will be introducing yourself to a potential client, referral source, industry professional, or group of people. For example, every month at the Jacksonville Business Professionals luncheon, attendees are invited to give a 7 to 10-second self-introduction. So, how can we best use these ten-seconds of fame? I will now offer two formulae you may use, including instructions for making your moment in the spotlight stupendous.
Making a Lasting Impression
Basic Intro: It is perfectly acceptable to just give your name, company, what you do, and your target market. For example, someone might say “I’m Craig Smith, I run The Smith Company, and we are a CPA firm for North Florida Families.” That will get the job done in 7 seconds. However, it may not be memorable or remarkable. You can instead say something that will help make an impression on potential friends as well as the larger business community.
Best Intro: Mark LaBlanc of Small Business Success developed this unbeatable formula. Your purpose is to be intentional with your time, grab attention, and receive an audible response. Examples of an audible response include a laugh, gasp, cheer, or even applause. By starting to notice audible responses, you can begin to identify people making the most out of this platform. These are people you want to circle back to after the event. These individuals build enough intrigue that the audience is dying to know more.
Guidelines for Engaging with a Group
Below are six guidelines, inspired by LaBlanc, for creating a sensational self-introduction.
1. Attract, don’t repel, your audience. The easiest way to repel your audience is to tie yourself to only a title, service or product. In John Miller’s presentation for the Jacksonville Business Professionals, he mentioned how frustrating it is to have a conversation with a fellow member that
starts with sales. It is like throwing over the anchor with the line tied to your foot. Immediately you are connected to the weight of all the similar labels known by your audience, and half of the perceptions are likely to be negative. The exception to this is when a title, service or product is so new or intrinsically exciting that it begs further conversation. To attract your audience, position yourself by the concept of what you offer.
2. Use 8th grade language. Words or phrases over the head of your audience may be impressive and establish credibility of your knowledge, but the threat of exposing their ignorance and the resulting alienation may be difficult to overcome. Refrain from unfamiliar language like formulae (unless there are very clear context clues). Focus on clarity. You want to communicate with your audience, not confuse them.
3. Be conversational. Make the introduction easy to say, repeat, and remember.
4. Connect with the emotion or passion of your target audience. Here it is preferable to focus on the pleasure or dream, not on the pain. Rather than only looking at what problem you might solve for the individuals in the room, think about what you are making room for. Identify what your audience wants and how you can make that dream more accessible. For example, Craig Smith wouldn’t just focus on not paying tax penalties, but also on creating savings that can finally pay for that romantic vacation to the Maldives.
5. Describe what you do and for whom you do it. It is best to work with, rather than help, serve or teach. This shows you are working as a resource, shoulder to shoulder, recognizing that you and your client will both carry some responsibility. You may identify the “who” by narrowly focusing on two target markets. The narrower the target, the more likely you are to hit any target.
6. It must not have more than a dual focus. Use the word “and” once and only once in the statement.
Putting the Formula to Work
When you have a great self-introduction, then everything else falls into place. You’ll know you’ve got a great one when you hear an audible response.
This formula looks like this:
(Name) __________________ (of Company (optional)) __________________________
I work with [adjective] _________________ [1st target market] ____________________
who want ___________________________________________________________, and
I work with [adjective] _________________ [2nd target market] __________________
who want ___________________________________________________________.
Notice the difference in how I transform my normal introduction into a memorable one:
1. Basic Intro: I’m Doug Wilder, Wilder Business Success, Inc., business coach for lawyers and entrepreneurs.” That will get the job done in 7 seconds (I timed it!). However, it may not be memorable or remarkable.
2. Best Intro: “Doug Wilder of Wilder Business Success. I work with honest lawyers who want to make boatloads of money and powerful CEOs wanting to pass the baton to their precious children.” That intro, which is my favorite, took 10 seconds!
Listen for the Audible Response
Next event, meeting, or networking luncheon, pay attention to how others introduce themselves and see who stands out. You will notice some individuals say something remarkable, witty, or intriguing consistently.
At the JBP luncheons, Brent Ross doesn't go on an on about being a CPA and managing member of Ross Hughes & Associates. He mentions counting beans and making sure you have the most beans, Lauren Langham doesn't stick with the details about being a Commercial Real Estate Attorney for Taylor English Duma LLP. She turns heads when she refers to herself as a dirt lawyer. People connect with these ideas that are larger than business entities. Finally, Elite Senior District Manager at ADP Jessica Bush commands the rooms attention with something unique and clever each time.
While there are several other amazing formulae for creating a ten-second self-introduction, the one above is my favorite. Try it out, if you like, and claim your ten seconds of fame and fortune in the spotlight.
The original version of this article was first published in the August/September 2023 edition of PluggED In E-Magazine, a publication by the Jacksonville Business Professionals.