How to Talk About What You Do Series: Why You Need to Ditch Creative Job Titles
One of my favorite things to do when I host my “Branding with Annie” workshop is to ask the room, “What branding topics do you want to know more about?”
“How do I talk about what I do with others and keep it clear and concise? What’s something simple I can say?” asked Dave Baldwin, a local business consultant.
And the ENTIRE room nodded in agreement. Everybody was struggling with the art of communicating who they are in those quick networking opportunities.
And this is exactly how my newest series was born.
Welcome to the “How to Talk About What You Do” series. Beginning today, we’ll spend the next four weeks together working on how to improve how you talk about your business.
By the end of September, we’ll have broken down the core points of what you do - and together, we’ll have built you up to have more confidence in how you talk about yourself and your business. You’ll be far more equipped to get that message across - whether you’re meeting someone in an elevator or being put on the spot to say what you do in 30 seconds at a BNI meeting!
In today's story, we'll look at:
DITCHING CREATIVE TITLES AND BEING CLEAR ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS CATEGORY
Rather than jump right into a 30-second referral meeting pitch, we’re going to build to that over these next four stories in our most robust series EVER. The foundation is critical, so let’s start at the most foundational point of that quick verbal interaction.
I want to give you something today that’s going to fix problems right now - something you can put into action when you meet people in passing.
I want to help you clear things up so you don’t make the same mistake I see so many business owners make. I know it’s a mistake because I used to make it myself.
Using creative job titles and being creative in describing the work you do creates confusion, not connection.
When you only have a couple of seconds to make an impression, too many of us are blowing that opportunity by being confusing about our business category and/or our job titles.
Tell me if you’re heard or used something like this:
- I’m a Chief Innovation Officer
- I run a catalyst company for dynamic business owners
- I’m a thought leader and disruptor
- Oh, I do a lot of things… I’m a coach, a speaker, a fitness instructor…
These answers are perplexing if we’ve never met you before. They don’t communicate quickly what you do. I don’t know where to start with what to talk to you about.
And you might be thinking, but Annie- they are conversation starters. And I don’t want to be in a box.
Well - let’s look at how this plays out in real life.
For years, I used to tell people -
“I’m Annie Franceschi. I run a storytelling agency called Greatest Story Creative.”
I’d get two responses.
“Oh” (walks away)
“That’s interesting - what do you do… videography?”
I’d follow up with my uber creative explanation - “Well, I help people tell their story in their business and their life. I used to be in the film industry in LA.”
And typically, yes, people would often say “Wow! That’s so creative. That’s so original.”
And then none, and I mean NONE, of these connections would ever turn into anything. And that’s because they didn’t get it. And that’s because I wasn’t being clear enough or quick enough.
- Did these people think what I was doing was original and creative? Yep.
- Did they understand it in any memorable way? Nope.
- Did they leave meeting me with any understanding of what I do for other people so they could work with me or refer me to people or opportunities? Definitely not.
So what does this mean for you? How do we solve that problem?
To more clearly communicate what you do, avoid the creative titles and get specific about your category upfront.
It took me years to give up the “storytelling agency” pitch because of the security blanket of feelings I used to have like:
- If I don’t demonstrate how creative I am and my business is right away, I won’t stand out
- I’m not like everyone else and people need to get that about me
- I don’t JUST do one or two things - I do so much more than that!
But I finally did give these worries up - and it was game-changing. People learned enough to ask more questions. They got how I fit into a larger idea they knew about like “branding” and it led to those quick connections I was hoping to make in the first place.
Now I tell people who meet me the following things about me if I’ve only got a few seconds:
I’m a brand creator and speaker.
(And if I have time, I add) I run a branding agency called Greatest Story Creative.
Though this is more specific and less creative, I say these things for several strategic reasons:
- It covers the 2 core things I do in clear categories: I create brands, I speak
- Though this doesn’t cover EVERYTHING I do, it highlights the top 2 things I connect with people first about > Branding and Speaking for their organization
- I have creator in the title, referencing my creative side without losing people
- By identifying “branding agency” - I fit into a category that most people have some sort of reference for (vs. storytelling agency that has people thinking of videography, etc.)
EXERCISE 1: GET CLEAR ABOUT YOUR CATEGORY
Get out a sheet of paper and brainstorm your version of the one or two categories your work or job title falls into. We’re looking to find what you’re going to tell people in general, non-targeted settings.
Essentially, what is your version of “brand creator and speaker?”
Here are the rules:
- No creative job titles - your mom needs to understand what you pick
- Pick the broad category your work falls under (this is NOT the time to focus on why you do things differently - we’ll get to that “twist” soon enough - trust me!) - (for me, this is branding and speaking)
- Pick no more than 2 things - try for 1 if possible
- Pick the 1-2 most important things you do (the things you are most often looking for referrals and connections for)
REPLY back to me with your 1-2 clear categories.
We’ll work through this for the next 4 weeks together and I’ll be back next week with another exercise to take this further.
Here's inspiration for getting started on crafting a clear message.
Stuck on your category and need some examples?
No problem - I’m going to share 5 with you right now. And I’ll update them at every stage until our last story in the series along the way. You’ll see over the next four weeks how I wrote the 30-second introduction for each entrepreneur using the strategies behind the exercises I’m leading you through - step-by-step!
Watch how we'll build these up week-by-week >
Adele Michal | Adele Michal Coaching
Clear Categories: Sales Coach and Speaker
Crystal Scillitani | LeadingUp Consulting
Clear Category: Education Consultant
Annie Franceschi (Hey, that’s me!) | Greatest Story Creative
Clear Categories: Brand Creator and Speaker (or “branding agency” if describing the business, not myself)
What to do next: put your work categories into action.
Take me up on REPLYING to this with your decision about what categories you’re in.
Then I want you to “hit the road” with this. I’ve designed this exercise to be actionable right now. At your next networking event, try out this in favor of your standard line and see how it goes. Let me know what you hear back and how these conversations work for you!
I’ll be back next week to help you keep building on this foundation we just started together. The next level for this is going to put you at ease with this whole “How to Talk About What You Do” thing!
- "Why You Should Avoid Job Titles like Coding Ninja and What You Should Do Instead" (For Businesses who hire employees) - Paul Petrone via LinkedIn
- "It's Time to Put a Stop to Ludicrous Job Titles" BBC