One of the things I like about meetups is the opportunity to test introductions. With all the different things I enjoy doing, what do I want to focus on, and what hooks do I want to give people in order to make conversation easier?
I've been thinking about introductions because of conversations with Judy Gombita and Rachel Lane at last week's #torontob2b meetup. Judy delights in introducing me as the famous Shy Connector. This makes me grin a little in embarrassment, as (a) chances are that people haven't come across it, and I don't like making people feel a little out of the loop because they don't know someone who's supposed to be famous, and (b) umm, the whole point about shyness?
After the event, I thought about what some better reactions might be. For example, I could use that opportunity to give a 15-second summary of the key points, in case they're useful for other people. Chances are, the people I'm meeting at these events are either extroverted or have found ways to cope. For extroverts, it might be something they can share with their introverted friends (a handy excuse to reach out). For introverts, I might share a surprising tip (for example, public speaking lets you get around starting a conversation) and find out what their tips are. If I keep a copy of the presentation on my phone, that makes it even easier for people to pick it up quickly.
Rachel and I are figuring out this tricky introduction bit, too. In one of these conversations, Rachel introduced herself as just a freelancer focusing on digital strategy and copywriting. After that conversation wrapped up, I passed on the lesson that Alan Lepofsky taught me about eliminating "just" from self-descriptions. After all, "independent" isn't a synonym for "unemployed"; it can be something awesome. So now I'm going to introduce her as Rachel, who focuses on digital strategy, and who is also into wonderful things such as making Toronto greener through Guerrilla Gardening and helping people learn through Ladies Learning Code.
While we were talking about introductions, Rachel asked me how I wanted her to introduce me. "Consultant" is too vague. "Enterprise social software adoption consulting" is a mouthful, and it's relevant to only a tiny fraction of people. "Blogger" is too generic, although mentioning that I blog at LivingAnAwesomeLife.com does give people a sense of my personality.
I think that at these meetups, I'm going to focus on sketchnotes, because that's something that will be useful for anyone attending. I can quickly show some examples on my phone (or show the event's notes if this is post-talk conversation) and promise to send it to people. That would be a good lead-in to exchanging contact information or connecting on Twitter, and it also gives me an excuse to follow up.
I'll try emphasizing sketchnotes next time. When introducing myself, I can:
- connect with people's challenges with information overload
- explain that I sketch notes of books, presentations, and meetings so that people can quickly understand and review key ideas, and that I blog at LivingAnAwesomeLife.com
- offer to send them my notes from the event
I'll put together a business card focusing on sketchnotes too. Cards are good physical triggers for memory.
This is quite a different introduction for me. You know how you get a sense of where people put you in their mental classifications of people? I usually fit in the "geek" box. Although I'm sure people can figure that out as soon as they start browsing my website… =)
How do you experiment with your introduction?