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Do You: Don’t leave a void; create an opportunity

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How many times have you been in a business or even a casual social situation where someone asks, “So, what do you do?” Most times, we spit out a Pavlovian response (like we’re going for the buzzer on Jeopardy, hoping to give the expected reply): “I work for [or own] …” or “I’m a(n) [insert job title here].” Then we wait for our anticipated treat: the other person engages us in conversation or showers us with admiration and respect.

BBBBBBZZZZZTTTTT [loud wrong-answer buzzer noise]. Sorry, that’s unlikely to happen. By stating a feature about yourself rather than intriguing them with the benefit you bring to your work and the clients you serve, you miss the opportunity to engage the listener in your story and to begin to build a relationship. Instead, they have already put you in a box with all the other assumptions they have about [engineers, designers, doctors, event planners, real estate magnates, or whatever your title may be].

When you don’t give people the right information about you or your brand, you leave a void—space the listener is going to fill in. You want to stand out and differentiate yourself, however, you haven’t provided what distinguishes you from others in similar businesses or job titles. You allow the listener to color you or your brand with his or her assumptions or past experience.

That’s why it is essential to “do you.” Give your audience a framework where they can clearly see how you stand apart. Help them to understand the experience of how you rock what you do.

Here are some tips to prepare you to fill the void:

Your goal is to create an opportunity to position yourself as you want others to see you. Open up their thinking about your job or business. Help them understand why you stand out from the crowd. Do you so they have the authentic experience of what it’s like to do business with you. Don’t leave them guessing and filling in the blanks.

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Mixed Messages: Examining perceptions

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