1 SIMPLE CHANGE, CHANGED HOW OTHERS RESPONDED

Running your own business (regardless of it’s size) means you need to meet new people and let others know who you are. Even though I’m not extroverted, I enjoy going to meet ups around Houston, learning about the start up scene developing here, and conversing with the people who are making it happen. However, I would often leave those meet ups feeling inferior and unimportant to the people I was meeting.

After taking time to reflect on why I was constantly feeling this way I came to the conclusion I was starting off conversations poorly. When others asked what I did, I would casually mention “I’m a freelance graphic designer”. Usually the responses varied from “Oh that’s neat. I’ve met a few designers here tonight.” to “My 12 year old cousin also does graphic design work”. In summary, my response was bland and instantly made others compare my skills to those of a pre-teen who has access to Photoshop.

Once I recognized this, I changed the way I started off conversations. Instead of casually mentioning “I’m a freelance graphic designer”, I said “I run a design firm that specializes in helping businesses identify and utilize key metrics to ensure successful design projects”. The wording could still use some work, but the impact was immediately obvious. Instantly, others wanted to know more about what I did, how I approached design, and what my day to day life was like. In their minds I went from just another person to someone they wanted to have an in depth conversation with.

If you’re running into the same issue I was, here are some tips to help you better express yourself:

CLARIFY
Being a “graphic designer” is vague and uninteresting. Graphic design encompasses a wide variety of skills and areas of expertise. Start by identifying the skills you enjoy enjoy utilizing the most, and the impact they’ve made. Once you’ve identified those you can accurately describe who you are. No longer are you a “graphic designer”, you’re a “digital graphic designer who specializes in social media campaigns.” Even if you have a variety of skills, it’s best to focus on just one or two. In the end, this “tagline” is meant to be a conversation starter. You’re on your own for the rest of the conversation.

WHAT MAKES YOU UNIQUE
After clarifying who you are, it’s time to figure out what makes you unique. In most cases you only need one unique qualifier to stand out. This may take time, but in the end no two people have the exact skill set, experiences, and personality. Just because others may have the same skill set, doesn’t mean they’re better than you. Instead, your experiences allow you to think and approach the same skills from a different angle. Use that to your advantage.

STATE OF MIND
Once you have your new “tagline” it’s time to start using it. If you’re like me, you may need to give yourself a small pep-talk before walking into a meet up. I’ve found if I convince myself I belong with the people I’m talking to, I carry myself differently, and I’m more confident when I talk. It will take practice and feel unnatural at first, but the more you use your new “tagline” the more empowered you’ll feel.