Originally published on July 11, 2019 on www.changeleadershipadvisors.com.

Many years ago, I worked with a client on restructuring their new product development teams. One day, in the client’s breakroom, the general counsel for the company looked up at me as he poured himself a cup of coffee.

“Who are you and why are you here?” he boomed.

I think I jumped. And probably squeaked a little with surprise. I suddenly felt about 10 years old trying to justify some questionable activity to my mom.

“Ummm…I do change management and we have a project and I’m the change lead and we’re working on the processes and…ummm…yeah,’ I stammered.

I doubt he was impressed. Neither was I.

How many times in a day, a week or a month do we introduce ourselves to someone or to a group of people? How often are these future potential customers? And what do we usually say (assuming we are somewhat more articulate that my 10-year-old alter ago)?

“Hello. I’m Erika Mookerjie. I work for such and such a company as the head of organizational change. My key projects include this one, that one and another over there.”

Occasionally that will connect with someone who is familiar with change leadership. Or maybe they know the company. Or we’ve come up with a really catchy project name that makes them want to know more.

Usually though, I get a blank stare as the person tries to figure out what I really do. What value I’m bringing to the customers I serve. Why I’m the one doing the work instead of someone else.

Why is it so hard to make a good strong introduction?

The Value-Based Introduction is an approach that communicates the value you bring from your customer’s perspective rather than your own. You introduce yourself in terms of what the customer gets instead of what it is you do.

As a result, you create a stronger connection between you and the other person (or group). They have a clearer view of you and why you are there beyond your title or project name. You establish greater credibility by positioning yourself as a trusted advisor who knows what reality looks like from their side instead of coming across as a service provider looking in from the outside. To develop your own Value-Based Introduction, answer these questions and use the responses to craft a new way to introduce yourself.

  • Who is the audience? What do you know about them?
  • What do they need and expect from you?
  • How do you go about meeting their needs and expectations?
  • What does success look like?
  • How would you express success in terms of the outcomes and results achieved instead of the activities performed?
  • How specific can you be (where appropriate) about the outcomes, using qualitative and quantitative references in specific timeframes?

When I make group presentations and introduce myself, I now use some version of this:

“My name is Erika Mookerjie and my goal (and sometimes obsession) is preparing people to change successfully. I help them understand what is happening and how to take action to get ready. We get the business results we expect AND keep our people engaged in the process.”

And in that breakroom long ago and far away, I wish I’d had the preparation and presence of mind to say:

“I’m getting our team ready to transform the way we develop new products. Our work will allow us to get new products to market 17% faster than we do today – and that means our children and our customers’ children will be safer around the house sooner than ever!”