This post was originally published on June 20th, 2015. Updated for April 28th, 2020.
You may not realize it, but a couple of years ago I made an enormous career change. And it was hard. Really, really hard. And probably not for the reasons you might think. Sure, I took a big pay cut. And yes, my new career came with less stability. But surprisingly those weren’t the things that made the change really tough.
The hardest part was the fact that I truly believed that what I did was who I was. So when I didn’t have the high powered, high paying career anymore, suddenly I was no one. I lost who I was. I was in the midst of a very turbulent identity crisis.
It took me a long time to figure out that I have merit on my own, completely independent of what I do, and I was very fortunate to have some truly amazing people to help guide that transformation. Not everyone is so lucky.
When I’m introduced these days it goes something like this…”Meet Jillyn, my website designer.” Don’t get me wrong. I love what I do, and I’m so grateful to have wonderful clients. However, it’s a rare thing for anyone to be interested in what I do now. Either because they don’t understand or they think they totally understand. Regardless, it usually results in a dead spot in the conversation and I find myself retreating to the what-I-do-is-who-I-am-and-that’s-apparently-really-boring mentality.
And that brings me to this excellent article I came across this morning. Thinking back over the hundreds of introductions I’ve made in my life, there are numerous times when the type of introduction described in this article would have been more appropriate, and certainly better for the person being introduced. Something to think about as you prepare for your next cocktail party or get together…
I don’t mind being introduced based on what I do, but I would argue an introduction opening a window to who I am would be refreshing for both parties.
What if instead of introducing your friend as Jennifer the nurse, you started introducing her as Jennifer, one of most thoughtful people you know, or Jennifer the friend who helped you move in when you didn’t know a soul in this city.
Introducing your friends for who they are rather than focusing on what they do will remind them they are loved before and beyond their titles. It’s an easy way to remind them that you see them for their hearts instead of their accomplishments.
Our resumes are just paper. I want people to know my friend is amazing at her job, but more than that, I want people to know the stuff inside her that makes her a great friend. The stuff that makes you want to stand by her at a party, in hopes that her thoughtful observations and quick wit might rub off on you.
Let’s stop introducing the people we love based solely on what they do, who they cash their checks from, or what’s on their twitter profiles. Let’s instead start reminding them of who they are. Let’s start conversations that don’t begin and end with who has the most interesting job in the room.
Listen to this post on our podcast!
Into the Inbound with Technology Aloha