As you develop relationships within your target field you will need to introduce yourself to many people and be able to make the most of these opportunities.
In such situations a little preparation goes a long way, especially if talking about yourself and your achievements does not come naturally to you. Start by identifying your strengths as a potential employee: your relevant skills, experiences, achievements, interests and goals. Then think about the organization or industry or individual you are targeting, and consider which factors directly contribute to a good fit between you and them. Thirdly, be clear on what your goals are for the interaction. What are you hoping to learn? Finally you want to try to put all of this together into a mini introduction that might take several possible forms.
a) Sound Bite: An abbreviated introduction best used when time is short, as a lead-in to a telephone conversation for instance. Mention your name, educational background, and the purpose of making the contact.
“Hello. My name is Danielle Ferguson, and I am in a postdoctoral researcher in English literature at Yale. I am currently researching potential career options, and the publishing sector is an area of particular interest to me. I understand you have held many different positions in this field. I am interested in finding out more about your career path. Would it be possible to speak with you sometime this month?”
b) Infomercial: A longer version of a sound bite, more along the lines of a verbal business card. In addition to your name and educational background, mention relevant experience and skills, knowledge of the organization and the information or position you are seeking.
Continue with: “Last year I gained some editing experience at H & R Publishing in Chicago where I especially enjoyed collaborating closely with writers. I would like to continue to gain editing experience but am also interested in finding out more about the marketing side of the publishing business. I know that your company, NewBooks Plus, has recently expanded its marketing operations. Could you tell me more about these developments?”
c) Commercial: The longest version describes your background, qualifications, skills and achievements in more detail and would be used in situations where you are able to have a more extensive conversation with someone.
Continue with: “Over the course of my doctoral degree and since I began my postdoc I have taken numerous business and marketing seminars to complement my research experience. I have a thorough understanding of American literature and writers, with expertise in modern poetry. I would enjoy collaborating with local authors to promote their new works. I have several questions regarding the qualifications and experience necessary to break into the field, and am very interested to hear what you have to say about this.”
- The sample scripts are by no means designed to be memorized and blurted out without pause at any opportunity. Rather, they are designed to get you thinking about what you want to communicate in any given situation - use them as a place to start and a way to help structure your thoughts.
- Your conversation partner will almost certainly have questions and responses to various aspects of your introduction. Prepare for this by thinking about what you might be asked.
- You are the ultimate expert on yourself. No one can be more informative than you in describing your skills, expertise, and experience. A passionate, confident introduction is what tends to impress.