Growing up, anytime someone new moved into our neighborhood, my grandmother missioned herself over to their front door with a fresh peach cobbler in hand. Sometimes, she’d stay for hours, returning home with an empty deep-dish for me to wash and lots of intelligence about the new neighbors and their kids, if they had any.
Back to the present…, there’s a lot I don’t understand about our new social norms, but most shocking to me is that no one waiting on line at the Trader Joe’s checkout will make eye contact with me! When did we stop introducing ourselves to those around us? Was that accidental or did some culture-wide event bomb explode that escaped my attention?
Whose ludicrous idea was that anyway?
I went to a state-wide meeting in Orlando recently and, when I arrived early, took my seat at the huge square table at which over 40 board members would eventually be seated. Our afternoon facilitator arrived soon after, and, quite by happenstance, sat next to me. We introduced ourselves and she asked where my collaborative law practice is located. When I told her that I was in Tampa, she smiled. “I live in St. Pete,” she said, “so we’re neighbors!”
“That’s so lovely!” I responded. “My husband and I have been looking at homes on the water there for over a year, but it seems like no one ever leaves, voluntarily.”
“Really!?” Her eyebrows raised. “The house across the street from me is for sale.”
“Where do you live?” I asked.
“I live in Gulfport, in the Kipps Colony area.”
“Oh, that’s funny. My realtor lives in there,” I commented.
She asked, “Who is that?”
“Linda Cooley. She’s amazing,” I answered.
She gasped. “You’re not going to believe this but Linda’s babysitting my dog today!”
Then she giggled and pulled out her cell phone. “Let’s send her a selfie!”
Part of building a brand is introducing yourself. But by that I don’t mean by name or title or occupation; it’s not about that.
In coaching sessions, I work with my clients to create elevator pitches that tell the world what they are about and why their listeners should care, should listen. But I also teach them about their social pitches, about “introducing” themselves and having those more in-depth conversations one can share at a cocktail party.
“Introducing” yourself isn’t just repeating an elevator pitch. It’s sharing your passion with other people and asking, in return, about theirs. Many of those you meet will not know their own pitches but pitching someone is not about delivering a monologue anyway. It’s about having an active listening dialogue, engaging with someone else and showing interest in what interests them.
If you don’t meet new people, you deny them the opportunity to know you and to know what you’re about!
Not only did the facilitator and I have a conversation, but we discovered a mutual friend and a common interest. If Facebook has taught us anything, it’s that people we know, sometimes know each other. More than anything, I’ve discovered that it’s surprisingly often not “six degrees of separation,” but only one or two.
We trust what we know; people, brands, and even Mom’s cooking. Learning that we had a mutual friend immediately allowed me to trust her. Don’t deprive people of the chance to get to know you and your passion by failing to seize the opportunity to introduce yourself.
For more on how to market your professional practice more effectively, reach out to me at Joryn@JorynJenkins.com or find me at Your Collaborative Marketing Coach, because your marketing is my marketing! And if you’d like to learn how to become a Collaborative Champion, buy my toolkit or attend my training!