We have all been faced with a simple statement: “Tell me a little bit about yourself.”
And I ask: “What exactly do you want to know about me? How much is too much information to share?”
I’m going to share a few examples of my picture-perfect introduction that started as an idea I heard from a sales leader a few years ago. I thought it was a brilliant idea to get to know more about your teammates and for them to get to know you. When ideas like this come your way, you nurture them in your own way, and doing so gives them wings to fly far and wide.
What Exactly Do You Want To Know About Me?
I called it the picture-perfect introduction. It started about three years ago with information about what I valued most. It was all about travel, motivational quotes and photos of places or food that I loved.
Then I had an event as a guest speaker at Cornell, and I pondered how to tell my story. And so I weaved in two more stories about my education and professional journey.
I shared my picture-perfect introduction as part of my interviews. And it was a nice way to get to know the hiring manager and for the hiring manager to get to know me. I think the simplicity of including a visual slide to go along with my introduction was powerful.
And depending on their level of interest and follow-up questions, we sometimes talked about favorite places I traveled to. One conversation was even about flowers. That’s it: a true connection over flowers.
And that wouldn’t have happened if I was giving a two-minute pitch about who I am and why they should want to hire me.
How Much Is Too Much Information To Share?
When I shared my picture-perfect intro with my new team, I was encouraged to see that everyone created their own picture-perfect introduction and brought so many different aspects of their lives together. They were not just about work but also included their families and communities, and that inspired me.
Getting to learn about others in ways that words cannot describe or even do justice to was a beautiful experience. We know so much more about each other than just our job titles or roles. The introductions helped us learn about each other’s similarities and interests and open up to understand each other better.
Now, this is where you start asking, “What happened to simplicity?”
Did you add so many pieces that you now need to take something out to nourish the simplicity? Perhaps the answer is yes.
Simplicity and Storytelling
Simplicity is key, and mastering the art of storytelling has always been a fascinating process to me. This is my way of testing storytelling skills. How can I captivate the audience so they’re curious to learn more? What makes me truly me?
What started as a fun exercise for my team became about much more than just learning about somebody; it also shows how we tell stories about ourselves.
That could be true. But it could also be that the definition of a picture-perfect introduction evolved. And then it dawned on me: Why do I call it the picture-perfect introduction? Why does it have to be perfect?
Not all things are perfect. There is perfection in imperfection. And that’s when I realized that was my story. It wasn’t so much about having the visual slide or narrative or pitch. Deep down in the granular details, it was about the story that my audience would want to hear. So now, as part of my networking introductions on video, I no longer bring up my visual snapshot.
I just have one starting point to my story, and it can take different forms. There’s no perfection. It’s just about me in the moment or flow, if you will.
We think we need to be perfect all the time. But the truth is that we don’t. We can be ourselves, even professionally, and that’s beautiful.
So, to everyone who feels like they are not enough: Create your own picture-perfect introduction in your own way. Define perfect on your own terms.
Discipline and Checkboxes
I’ve loved collages since I was little, and I keep things clean and tidy. Discipline is ingrained in me.
When I made collages, I was doing two things:
- Bringing collages to life.
- Boxing my life story into elements like education, work, family, community and travel.
For me, this was a fascinating observation of how I shaped my story. What I decided to keep and what I decided not to include says a lot more about me than I ever imagined.
We are all trying to figure things out and trying to define our self-worth. But a little self-compassion can go a long way. Your story is the story that you’re telling, and how you tell it matters more than what you tell.
This discovery is a eureka moment for me. It’s not about checkboxes that I’m trying to fill, but about the unique experiences that make me me.
How Can I Be Authentic, Be Myself and Not Worry About What Others Think?
Create your story, a.k.a., picture-perfect introduction. Enjoy creating your narrative in a picture-perfect or less-than-picture-perfect way. Be you.
How To Get Started
Be your authentic self and include both professional and personal stories in your picture-perfect introduction.
- For an interview, think about what you would like to share with the hiring manager and what would be a good ice breaker that deviates from typical interview formats.
- For a networking event or presentation, think about the audience and include motivational quotes or pictures that tell a little bit more about you than just your job title and company.
- For the first meeting with your team at a new job, think about how to build compassion within your team by opening up and sharing personal stories.
Originally published at https://www.forbes.com.