Here’s a question that might be an interesting topic, particularly as we head into holiday season: how do you introduce yourself and your work? Do you have an “elevator pitch” that you’ve honed to make your work and skills sound interesting (and if so, what is it)? Does your introduction/description change depending on context?
For example, your boyfriend’s grandfather gets one introduction, whereas if you suddenly found yourself in an elevator with the CEO of a company you would LOVE to work for, that CEO would get another introduction?
For my $.02, I think it’s so interesting how this question gets into so many of the things we talk about as “overachieving chicks” — the desire to trumpet your accomplishments without being accused of “humble bragging,” as well as Imposter Syndrome (because if you make yourself or your work sound TOO cool and then you go and put your foot in your mouth, then they’ll know that you’re an imposter!) (no, just me?).
There’s even this concern for other people’s time (that men don’t have, I don’t think) so you maybe just say a one-word answer because there’s this feeling of “oh I just do X I wouldn’t want to bore you with it/take up too much of your time answering your question!” For the working moms among us, it kind of gets into the problem of self-definition after kids — do you say that you’re a mom to two kids in your introduction, or save it until it comes up in conversation?
I’m struggling to find the words to it, but it feels like “feminine values” somehow enters into my own answer to this sometimes, such as attempts at gratitude and humility when I say things like, “I’m really lucky to run a blog, thanks!” (I mean, I am, but still…)
I don’t know, ladies — how do you introduce yourself and your work to new people? Have you been surprised to hear a friend totally undermine his or her own accomplishments in a self-introduction, or (on the flip side) had your eyes roll back in your head when someone went ON and ON and ON in an introduction?
Photo via Deposit Photos / fizkes.
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Depends on if I want to keep talking to the person! If I don’t, I say I work in retirement saving. If I do, I say I work in tech. They’re both true!
This! If I don’t want to talk to someone (esp if it’s a chatty seat mate on an airplane) I say I work for an accounting firm (Big 4, but I’m not an accountant). Guess who wants to know more after that? NO ONE.
IMHO, you’re overthinking this.
It’s pretty easy to determine, based on context, what people are looking for when they ask this question. If they are making small talk at a party, do not give them an elevator pitch. (“I’m a lawyer; I work just south of the city. It’s a long commute, but I really enjoy the company and the traffic isn’t bad. You work here in town, right?”) If they are in the industry, you explain in more detail. (“I do a lot of compliance work, blah blah blah. Fell into it a couple of years ago after blah, blah, blah. Steve said that you do X. Do you enjoy it?”)
I’m pregnant, so I do get a lot of pregnancy- and kids-related questions now, but I don’t “define” myself by my reproductive ability. Other people are more than happy to try to do that for me, and honestly, most of those people are terribly boring individuals whose opinion doesn’t much matter to me, on a practical or emotional level.
Yeah, same. If I’m just meeting someone for the first time socially and they ask what I do, it’s “I’m in legal at X company.” If at a networking event, it’s “I’m in legal at X company, I handle Y and Z.” (And if they seem interested in more detail, “You may have seen Big Deal in the news, I was part of that team.”) More than that is conversation-stifling.
Children come up naturally later, if the conversation unfolds and you’re talking about your plans for the weekend or whatever, a parent will probably say something about a child’s sporting event or party or something. I would find it really surprising if someone volunteered kid information as a response to “what do you do” and they are NOT a SAHM…
Ha! My SAHM cousin used to make some comment about her kids being the toughest bosses she’s ever had when asked what she did (this was when we were in early 30’s and living in Manhattan).
This is so geographical, too. In NYC, the question can be about status. In Texas, you might not ask the question in a social situation because it’s not polite (which is also, really, about status).
I work on campaigns. I really don’t like to talk to random people about what I do so I’m usually super vague “media consulting” or something like that. If they ask who I consult for I say “nonprofits”
If it’s someone who knows more about the industry, I’ll say my title and the candidate I’m working for pretty directly early on so there aren’t any awkward issues of them trashing our signature proposal or whatever before they know who I am.
I do what my Dad says. If it is someone who may be a cleint, I say, I am Ellen Barshevsky and am a junior equity partner, and then, if I am alone, give him/her my busness card with all details and let them know that I am a WC expert litigeator, and am comforable litigating in NYC, Brooklyn, Bronx, Westchester, and can do pro haek vice in NJ and CT.
If the man is young and potentially husband material, I also tell him that I am single, but interested in getting married and having children in the near future, and scope him out to see if he want’s to date me.
If it is an older man, I would not bring up the married discussion, but would focus on him, whether he is married, has kid’s, and what he is planning to do in the next 5 years (retire, take a vacation, etc). Finally I am very careful with women b/c I do NOT want them to feel intimidated by me and the fact that I am an attorney, duly admitted and in good standing in the State of New York, while they are not. Only in this way can I say what I need to say and do what I need to do to attract and retain new cleints’ for the firm! YAY!!!!
I just found your website and I have been reading my entire free time! Thank you so much for the work that you put in Kat!
One thing, that is not relevant to the topic of the post, but what does “$.02” mean? It comes up often in your posts, I’ve looked it up on traditional dictionary and Urban Dictionary but cannot seem to find the actual meaning.
Hi Michelle! It’s the numerical representation of “two cents.” When someone adds their “two cents” to a topic, they’re simply stating an opinion or advice based on observation/experience.
I’m late to this post but love the site. I think when it comes to introductions, you should always be prepared for the question, “so tell me about yourself?”. I have a few different answers, depending on the audience. It’s always an honest summary that’s never too over-rehearsed. However, if it’s less formal, like meeting someone in the elevator, any ice breaker I can think of and strong eye contact. Body language and tone of voice speaks the loudest, ladies!
“I’m originally from Vienna, West Virginia. I have lived in Houston for five years focusing on my work in stroke recovery. I many hobbies, including music and longboarding”.