Between every new generation and their parents, there is also such a huge gap of understanding. They don’t understand the new music ‘what is this rock and rock?’. They don’t understand technology ‘why do you need a mobile phone? Just use a payphone’. But I don’t think that there has ever been a larger gap in understanding than there is between millennials and our parents, our parents’ parents and beyond. ‘What do you mean you work from home? Dominique, did you get fired?!’ ‘Why are you always posting pictures on the internet? You’re going to get kidnapped!’
Some of the most annoying conversations I’ve had with older people, and sometimes even people from my own generation who aren’t as technically savvy – have surrounded exactly what it is that I do as a career.
Conversations typically go like this:
“So you studied television production in university”– yup. But I’m not exactly in the production industry
“Ok… but you still do camera work”– yeah, but mostly for the web. It’s a small fraction of the larger scheme of what I do
“So what’s your title”– Digital brand strategist, with a touch of consulting, web development, videography, photography… I guess it can be summed up as creative content creator
“What does all of this mean”- I help establish the online brand strategy for different brands, so I manage their social media platforms and help create the strategy for campaigns.
“You get paid to be on Facebook… where do you work”– It’s a lot more than just Facebook, but yes, Facebook is a part of it. I have a 9-5 but I do a lot of freelance work as well
“Freelance? Because you don’t make enough money?” – no, freelance because I love what I do
This is typically followed by a forced sideways smile, a pat on the shoulder, and an attempt to start up a new conversation.
So how do we avoid this awkward and unending cycle of conversations? How do we finally figure out how to explain exactly what the hell is it that we do.
Figuring out your personal summary is not only important to finally get your parents to understand you (good luck with that) but also to pitch yourself to potential employers and clients.
Danielle LaPorte, who I’m sure you know is one of my favourite authors (I blog about her enough) explains that “How you introduce yourself could be a sacred distillation of your reality, talent, and deepest interest. Yep – all that in just a sentence or two…. it’s better for your nervous system if your description of your current career or life status feels honest to you when you deliver it.”
It’s important that you’re being genuine when you explain what it is that you do. Even if you’re not thrilled about your current situation, be honest and optimistic in your explanation. Danielle LaPorte gives the example of Erika who explains “I’m a talent recruiter by day and a Kundalini yoga teacher by night. Someday I’ll stop living a double life, but right now, I’m, you know, digging for my dream gig. Mostly, I’m interested in wellness and modern art”. – optimistic, truthful, and impressive.
Danielle suggests using this formula when explaining who you are
1. Accentuate your interests
“your interests or so-called hobbies are just as relevant as your income-earning status and how many stamps your passport has”
2. Give Yourself Credit
“Let people see the full scope of what you’re doing. You can be modest and powerful. Factual and engaging.”
3. Feelings Over Facts
“We’re prone to put people in categories according to their jobs: winner, loser, somewhat intriguing, or totally unrelatable,” introducing emotion into your conversation makes people feel closer to you and relate better.
So here goes….
So Dominique, what do you do?
I’m a digital brand strategist at a Toronto tech start-up company. I really enjoy my work because it blends seamlessly into what I spend my free time doing. This includes blogging, videography, photography, website development, and probably way too much social media. Helping students and even, more mature people to understand their online influence is really satisfying for me. My ultimate goal right now is to launch a media literacy workshop for young girls, to help them understand innovative technologies and how to use them to express themselves through storytelling.
Using this formula, how do you plan to start introducing yourself? Tell me in the comments below
This post is part of the October Challenge hosted by Jeaneva Spencer.