by Ellen Mehling, Career Development Consultant, METRO
It is well-known that networking is vital to a successful job search and a thriving career. LinkedIn has made it easy to connect with a large number of people, but in-person interactions should not be neglected and should be conducted with thought and care. Those who have met you in person and who really know you and have worked with you in some way are going to be the most beneficial to you. These are the people who will refer, recommend, or even hire you. These first words and conversations with other professionals can make or break your opportunity for further contact.
You will be remembered by the manner in which you introduce yourself, so choose those first words deliberately. Sometimes just your name, title, and workplace will suffice. And sometimes just your name and a general descriptive title (even just “librarian”) is appropriate, depending on the person or audience you are introducing yourself to.
In some cases, a few words describing what you do will be needed. If, for example, your title doesn’t make your job responsibilities clear or if there is a certain skill you want to be sure the person you are talking to knows about you, be sure to mention that too. If you are a student, give the name of the school and your degree-in-progress, with the possible addition of the kind of information work you hope to do following graduation.
It is best not to introduce yourself by saying you are unemployed or job hunting. I have heard many info pros begin their introduction with something like, “I was laid off two years ago…” We all have setbacks in our careers. By introducing yourself with a past setback you are telling other people that this one-time event, which may have occurred some time ago, has defined you in a permanent way. This encourages others to think of you as unemployed and that is not likely to lead to new opportunities. I would also avoid the phrase “in transition” as it has come to mean “long-term unemployed”.
Lead with your strengths; introduce yourself in the present tense, (“I am…” rather than “I was…”) and have some project or part-time job or volunteering or internship or blog or research or service in a professional organization that you can talk about later in the conversation. Keep your introduction to one or two sentences. After that, *listen* to the other person’s self-introduction and ask a follow-up question or two, to get things started. Read more…