The title of this article is a common question we ask when we meet someone new.
As such, we all answer it regularly.
Yet the answers I hear from people often make me cringe.
When you have an opportunity to talk about yourself do you downplay your accomplishments?
Or do you go in the other direction and talk, ad nauseam, about who you are, what you’ve done, and why you are the greatest person in the world?
There is a delicate balance in describing yourself to someone else. Here’s how to do it effectively:
First: Frame your accomplishments in a context based in their world.
To do this, compare your greatest success to something with which they are familiar. Here’s an example:
“Thanks for asking, Joe. Just like you, I’m known as a professional litigator. All of us have cases we are most proud of. One of mine is the case of Jones vs. Smith where my client was awarded a $2 million judgment. “
Next: Point out a particular passion.
“In my personal time I work with the Autism Research Foundation. I was drawn to it because of the impact this issue has had on my family. My kids mean everything to me and this is a way for me to give back to people who are looking to make life better for their family. ”
Finally: Wrap things up by asking the other person a question about them.
“Tell me Joe, how old are your kids?”
Note that I included only one business accomplishment and one area of personal passion. The reason is not because I think you should be humble. It is because of the psychological principle of primacy. Our brain will remember and associate people with the first thing we hear. In an initial meeting, you want the other party to walk away remembering the big business impact ($2 million success) and the passion (helping kids with autism).
The tendency is for us to list a string of accomplishments to impress the other party. This has a discounting effect on in the mind of the other person. The human brain will unconsciously average all the things we have done and often blunt impact of our accomplishments.
So the next time someone asks you for information about yourself, prepare your initial response as outlined above. Then watch how they introduce you to others. You will notice that they use the exact same language you use and it will have a memorable impact.
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