Christine Dionese and I are Peer-to-Peer Mentoring each other. Here’s what we’ve been asking each other about lately…
“Generally I’m the one handing out relationship advice, but looks like I need a fresh take on this one! I have always had great success working with friends. I’m in the beginning stages of a new project with a friend and I’m already thinking I may need to dissolve the business side of it. I move fast and work fast… and they don’t. I can appreciate every effort a snail makes, but not in this case. How can I continue to move ahead, pursuing the project, but solo? Any advice for tactfully going about this with my friend?”
“You have multiple skills and talents that you bring together to shape your unique service offerings; in the face of this diversity of skills, do you have techniques for clearly articulating each offering (and how they might fit together) to someone who is not familiar with your work? What is your approach when (and if) your offerings are not clearly understood by that person?”
Great question and one I work toward answering on a regular basis. My main hub christinedionese.com tells my multi-faceted story so I tend to readily refer strangers there all the time… in the about section I start off in the first person by saying, “Everyday I straddle the dimensions of multiple worlds.” Right from the get-go I’m letting folks know that I offer multi-faceted skills and services. But, what I think you’re asking about is when people inquire face to face. I can answer this question best with personal experiences!
The answer that I offer inquiring minds, while at the core is the same, is shaped depending on my audience at hand! A little linguistic shuffle is my technique I suppose. For example, a few weeks ago I spoke to a psychopharmacology class, so my answer was tailored initially to the western sciences. If I’m in a health care & wellness setting I always pull it together by sharing that at the heart of what I do is offer people a glimpse of what total health can be like. When I’m consulting to socially conscious businesses I let them know I’m helping create tangible tools for modern living. Luckily, having been asked this question countless times, the answers seem to flow!
I think it’s important to ask yourself, what is that I do, provide, create, write, serve, invent, etc. The deeper you get, the better you can self-describe, and when people ask, the more genuine and authentic your descriptions will sound. What resonates about design to an artist will be different than to say a packaging engineer.
There will always be someone who flat out asks, “what does that mean?” or “I don’t quite get it, can you tell me more?” Remember, it’s easier for people to subconsciously bring in information they are already aware of to finish coloring in the lines. Occasionally I’ll pipe out my answer and the reply will be, “so you’re a this” or “so you do that.” I don’t mind using people’s own thoughts to help act as a familiar resonation, but I definitely take the “I don’t get it” folks and turn it into an opportunity to help my new audience build awareness of what I really do.
I’ve had to troubleshoot the question so many times that I tend to have all the answers on-deck by now. Hearing, “I’m an integrative health care specialist” is part of my answer and not everyone gets that or some people have an idea of what that might mean, yet not fully. I take this opportunity to fill in the blanks for them- instead of letting the audience pick the colors, my answer fills in the lines for them.
When you think about it, if my answer was, “I’m in health care” or “I’m a consultant and a writer” that sounds boring and not particularly unique. Those answers tend to leave it at that- my audience isn’t intrigued and doesn’t care about asking more.
The answer fully, “I’m an integrative health care specialist, medical journalist & food writer and involved in socially conscious business development” is the most intriguing answer to people and gets them asking more curious questions. You asked how I might explain these facets fitting together. Following up with, “each of these endeavors is an extension of the other, always helping each one to evolve.” And, hopefully, you will further captivate your audience with a comment like that (I am not patting myself on the back right now, it just works!) to get them asking more!
Anecdotes offer visualizations- I always try to color the story vividly. Explaining how the private practice is multi-faceted and not like others is always helpful. Talking a bit about how my writing and journalism is diverse is an effective tool. Letting people know that the consulting I’m involved in is to raise human awareness on a local and global level always intrigues.
When you’re actually out and about, practice talking about yourself! The more you do, the more genuine will your connections become! And, take that opportunity to hand out your biz card or invite someone to enter into a discussion at your website. A simple, “I would love to continue the conversation, definitely email me your thoughts on this” brings more people to your website. Here they get to absorb you and fully understand what you’ve just talked to them about. And boy, from there, they will visit your blog and be hooked! I know I was!
Authentic, creative, audience-driven, heart-felt, genuine and spontaneous are the ingredients to helping people organically engage with you!