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How to introduce yourself at a networking event

A little something to get you thinking today via the Co-Women blog – because what more would you expect from the Sussex networking group for women than a piece with a difference?! Becky Hughes, who works as a personal trainer and Co-Women’s Co-founder shares more about how she’s now going to be introducing herself…

Like many people, I spend WAY too much time on social media – Instagram and TikTok are my favourites, though I tend to treat the latter like TV and just watch it. But there are nuggets of gold among the dross, and I’m going to share one of those cool things with you now.

I have long been uncomfortable with the idea of leading an introduction to myself with my job. Some of that comes from having been in too many jobs I’ve hated – and therefore not wanted to identify with – and part of it is due to having a couple of jobs at once, but more typically being “on duty” with the one I’m slightly less keen to promote.

Try as I might, I couldn’t find a solution to my problem. Because, as an adult in a room full of strangers, the first thing you’re often asked (sometimes before someone even asks your name) is, “what do you do?”.

Just to be really fucking facetious, I do a lot of things. But I don’t think that the middle-aged White man with bacon juice on his chin probably wants to hear about most of the things that spring to mind when I’m asked that question (though, most likely he’d have some strong preferences on that long list). So really, it’s a problem with that specific question, not how I’d like to answer it.

However, mid-scroll, I paused and gasped. Because the solution to my dilemma was finally presented to me thanks to Susan David, PhD, who in her professional life is a psychologist, researcher and author (I had to make several attempts at that sentence, because lo and behold, I defaulted to identifying a person as their profession). Susan’s short and sweet post reads as follows:

“You are more than your job.

One simple thing you can do to help separate your role from your identity is to say ‘I work as a ____’ instead of ‘I am a ____’”

Boom, there it is!

Now I have a way of introducing what I do, without it being presented as all that I am. Because I’m so much more than a personal trainer – and you are absolutely allowed to read that in a couple of ways. Personal training is how I earn my money in order to support myself and my lifestyle. I spend many hours a week doing it, and continually educate myself further to get better at it, but I do so much more with my remaining time.

This concept tallies really nicely with something similar I saw a while ago, and relates specifically to the idea of professional redundancy: it’s important to state that the role was made redundant, not the person; this is a critical factor in that person maintaining their self-worth during and after the process.

So, the next time you meet me – whether for business or pleasure – and take an interest in my work, I will tell you that I work as a personal trainer, and the Co-founder of a women’s networking group, plus that I enjoy horse riding and going on holiday to sunny places and discovering new fragrance and eating cheese.

I won’t be telling you that I am a personal trainer. Because I’m so much more than someone who does their job.

Your turn: who are you and what do you work as?

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