Developing Your Career

Make Sure Your First Impression Isn’t Your Last

By Greg Simpson on July 10, 2012

In a tight job market, it’s more important than ever to make a great first impression. Within just a few seconds upon meeting you, most people will form an opinion that will stick. A clear, concise “statement of introduction” is a great way to ensure people have an accurate sense of who you are and the value you offer.

The introductory statement – sometimes called your “elevator speech” or “30-second commercial” – is, in fact, a “positioning statement,” because it serves to position you in the job market. The following tips will help you develop a positioning statement that creates a great first impression:

  • Create a professional identity. Start your positioning statement with your “professional identity” stated in the present tense. Remember, although you may not currently have an official job title, you’ve earned your professional identity through your work experience, skills and education. For example, a corporate trainer/facilitator could start his positioning statement with “I’m a corporate training professional …”
  • Describe where you’ve worked and what you’ve done. Offer a short description of your areas of expertise, types of organizations in which you’ve worked (Fortune 500, entrepreneurial start up, large non-profit, small family-owned company, etc.), strengths, and/or a few of the on-the-job activities you’ve really enjoyed.
  • Ask for what you want. Make sure you have identified what your goals are. Networking partners need to know what your goals are so it’s easier for them to help you. For example, are you looking for a referral or introduction? Are you interested in learning more about an industry? Be clear and specific.
  • Practice makes perfect. Keep your positioning statement brief (20-30 seconds), but don’t rush through it when you’re introducing yourself. Practice with friends and family until you committed it to memory. Then work on making it sound natural and authentic.

A practiced positioning statement has many applications: in conversations with networking partners, as an introductory statement at professional association meetings or job fairs, or anytime you’re meeting someone for the first time. There’s no “undo” button, so make your first impression a good one.

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