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Monday, November 24, 2008

How To Talk About Your Job And Not Bore People

By day, I work for a software company, which sounds very 1990's if you ask me. Sometimes I like to just leave it at that in conversation, but if I feel the person I'm speaking to is sharp or interested I'll delve in a little deeper about what the software actually does (and why I'm qualified to work on it). I've been here a little less than a year and it was a seriously difficult thing to get people to understand or care about what the product I support actually does. The 100 character blurb that describes my position is terribly boring and obtuse.
I support front and back-end aspects of Company X's proprietary marketing and public relations analytics solutions.

Doesn't make you want to jump out of your seat and demand an explanation, no? This is why I can't be a sales person. I'd never be able grab someone's attention in 30 seconds unless I lied and exaggerated until I was struck down by powers above.
Instead, I break it down to a simple and applicable description that goes like this,
So, you know how companies have like, brands? Yeah, well they market those brands to certain parts of the population that they think might buy them. Our software measures what people say about this brand campaigns in blogs, message forums, newspaper articles, etc. Basically we hear everything that goes on within the web and we're able to analyze the tonality and frequency of when and how it's mentioned.

Usually when I break it down like that, I get a "that's really cool" and I smile and say, "yeah it is."

Other times I'll mention that I'm a freelancer on the side. That always gets a good amount of interest, especially when I say my topics of choice to write about are the environment, renewable energy, career development and the economy. Often times I don't even need to overtly network with people because they'll ask me for a card or my website.

I suppose talking about yourself quite a bit comes of as narcissistic, but I'm convinced the only real way that people can understand you in a meaningful way is if you articulate what you do and what you care about when they're listening. When you have a captive audience, don't waste it!

More importantly, be a good listener when it's their turn to talk about their lives and work. If people think you're uninterested in hearing them speak, they'll never really open up to what you have to say.

All this being said, does anyone have any good suggestions for business cards that are nice looking yet easy on the wallet? Any other creative ideas for handing out your info?


Matthew said...

This might be of interest to you. Digital Resume...

JR Moreau said...

Good pick Matthew. I've seen some AMAZING pages designed like this. Definitely worth a shot.

Nancy said...

Vista Print practically gives their business cards away. The trick is to click "no" on all the other junk they want you to buy with them. If you can "just say no" you can create some awesome cards for a fabulous price. My hypnotherapy cards are quite striking.