For those of us who read the newspaper from time to time, one can’t help but notice that just about everyone who is mentioned in any story is given a label.
The label selected is usually something very simple such as “a 46 year old truck driver from Illinois.” In this case it is someone’s career. We have learned in short order that this is an older working class individual from the Midwest. In other cases the label selected is one that identifies the individual’s relationship with someone else in the story such as “a close advisor to Mr. Smith.”
Labels help us focus our thinking. I think most of us would agree that what particular people say and do is colored by who they are.
In much the same way, your 90-second announcement needs to first and foremost “stake out your territory.” I usually start mine by saying that my background is primarily advertising and publishing and that I have about a decade of experience in each industry. Advertising and publishing as industries have a lot in common. In this way I am not only letting you know what I am, but also what I am not. I am clearly not a “manufacturing guy” and I am not a “real estate guy.”
It is only by setting the stage in this way that anyone’s background can be made to make sense. Those formative years spent in public accounting or in manufacturing serve as a way for others to think about you. With a solid frame of reference it is then easier to add “a little meat to the bones” and understand what it is you do and how you do it.
If you don’t start with the conclusion, i.e. an overview of your career, but instead begin with the proverbial “I was born at a very early age,” others are likely to not know what they should be listening for. It is harder for them to add the branches to the tree and leaves in the right shape and color if they don’t know the type of tree you are talking about.
Your very own 90-second announcement is without a doubt the most difficult problem for you to solve, but it is the most important tool in communicating on a networking basis with other human beings. Very few people will give you a sufficient amount of time for you to tell them the “whole” story.
We live in a sound bite world. That said, if you spark my interest I am just liable to sit back in my chair and ask for more information.
Labels not only help those around you to listen better and absorb more information, they also allow others to decide if they want to get to know you.
A few key labels sprinkled here and there will often do the trick.