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Stop The Tales of Woe

Recently, I asked some job seekers for topics they would like to see in The Stop Sign. Just about everyone I asked mentioned, “Tell people to stop the long, boring introductions!

I am happy to address this issue. As a follower of branding expert Stephen Melanson, I preach his principles of simplicity and differentiation.

The simplicity theorem, simply means, “Keep your message simple.” And one of the best ways to do that is to keep your message short.

This means no elevator speeches, no long-winded tales of woe, and respecting other peoples’ time.

About five years ago, I was scheduled to present at a networking meeting. The group had a standard procedure for the meetings, which included each member being allowed to introduce themself. There was a larger than normal attendance that day, and several of the people were first-time attendees.

Just about all of them told their work history and resulting tale of woe.

Some of these introductions took 5 – 7 minutes.

We were all seated around a large conference table. I counted the number of people ahead of me for the introductions. I was 12th or 14th in line. It took almost an hour and a quarter to get to me.

My intro took about a minute. And there were still another five or six people to follow me.

Now, I’m just like other people; so, I can imagine how the others felt while waiting for their turn to talk---Hurry up!

And remember why I was there---I was scheduled to present. Every minute that passed cut into my presentation time.

After the introduction, there was a bio-break. When we reconvened, the facilitator apologized that I wouldn’t have as much time as he had originally planned for me.

I’m confident the people who tell their story at networking events don’t realize the cumulative effect.

They have no idea, because they’re not in the best place, emotionally. Looking for a job is hard.

We all have felt this need to tell our story. We need others to listen to us. When they listen, we feel supported.

In short, telling your story supports you. But, only you.

We must all bear in mind the purpose of networking events:

1) To network. That means, building mutually beneficial relationships.

2) To find AIR. That means, asking for Advice, Information, and Referrals.

3) To make a good impression. That means, presenting yourself in a way that others will want to provide you AIR and continue a relationship with you.

Monopolizing conversations and telling your tale of woe does not accomplish any of those goals.

So, stop taking up everyone’s time.

Instead, introduce yourself concisely. State your interests.

One-on-one: Twenty to thirty seconds intro, max; then ask, “And you?”

At a group networking event that allows introductions—1 minute intro, max.

Wrap up by saying something like, "And I look forward to chatting more with you. Thanks."

By mastering the concise introduction and avoiding the tale of woe, you show respect for the other attendees and guest speakers. You will present your better nature, and your networking efforts will pay dividends.

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