Tweaking my introduction, focusing on sketchnotes

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 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
  • 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?

  • Consider creating 1/4 page flyer-size cards that a) summarize your Shy Connector insights and b) showcase your sketchnotes. You can have a collection of different cards that you hand to different people depending on the context.

    I don’t know if you carry a purse or use pockets, but the inner pocket of most men’s jackets fits a 1/4 page card perfectly (useful to point out if the person doesn’t know where to put the card when wearing a jacket). And the 1/4 page format gives you a little more room to provide value to the person you’re connecting with and showcase your work.

    You can do it cheaply with cardstock and a paper cutter, or get some printed professionally fairly cheaply.

    I don’t know if these would be in place of business cards or in addition. My gut feel would be in addition, based on the context of who you’re meeting.

  • Oh, that’s certainly more flexible than a business card, and it’s a good physical takeaway! I’ll see if I can squeeze the most popular presentations down to index card, postcard, or quarter-page, and carry them with me. It’s no trouble to fetch one out of a bag, and I can put my contact information on it. Thanks for the great idea!

  • I second the idea. Business cards are a bit passe I find, but I know it’s good for the “traditional” folks which represent a part of the eligible customer base. I don’t believe in the “no need for business cards” because notions like that are short sighted in that you are just limiting what your “company” can do. A successful venture should be able to grow past one person.

  • I like business cards because I can leave them in my beltbag and always have them with me. =) Bags are a little harder to shuffle. Besides, with a name that’s hard to spell, I find cards handy. That said, I think it’s perfectly all right to have a company that stays small and manageable, particularly if you scale up in other ways.

  • You could use postcards, Moo do a brilliant service, not cheap but 200% quality. They do mini cards (for wallet), business cards (for belt bag), postcards (for purse) plus others. All DIY online.