Once you have set your goals, there are two key things you must have ready at all times: your verbal and printed business cards. Let’s look first at those all-important introductory words that describe what you do—words that will capture others’ attention and hold their interest.
Your appearance and behavior may already have made a positive impression—now, your words must maintain or accelerate the interest others have shown in you. Don’t lose even a few seconds at this crucial time. No “ahs” or “ums” allowed here. You are the expert on you!
I’ve developed a process that will help you develop the two or three sentences that succinctly tell others what you do. It’s important to note that this is not what people commonly refer to as your elevator speech, which may be between 30 and 60 seconds. This one lasts only about 10-15 seconds because that’s all the time you have to grab someone’s initial attention … and that’s all the time it is proper for you to use before giving the other person a chance to speak.
It’s wise to develop several verbal business cards, one for use at community, civic and professional organizations; one for internal use; and one for your industry. At the latter two, jargon is acceptable and even expected. At the first one, it is verboten.


We begin the process by helping you establish your brand, which is who you are. Your image, by the way, calls your brand to mind, so it is helpful to make them mutually supportive. You already have a brand and an image, whether you have consciously worked on them or not.
Your imaging includes your appearance, behavior, brochures, resumes and business cards. We discuss many of these items in depth elsewhere in the book.
Now, it’s time to look more closely at how to establish a positive brand. Let’s start the process by answering four key questions that are relevant whether you are self-employed or work for someone else.

What Do You Do?

To help you answer this simple, yet thought-provoking question, I’ve come up with more questions to stimulate your thinking.
What services do you provide?
Who’s your target market?
What tasks do you perform?
What do you say when people ask you the question?

How Do You Do It Differently?

Here’s where your uniqueness begins to shine through. Again, a few more questions:
What makes you different from others who provide the same service?
What value do you add?

Suggestions to get you thinking: Do you walk your talk? Are you a good listener? Are you a published author? Are you the top producer in the company? Have you experienced what you sell, speak about or teach?

How Do You Deliver Your Services/Products?

What methods do you use?
What vehicles do you employ?

How Do You Do It Differently?

What value do you add in your delivery?
Why would people hire you vs. someone else who provides a similar service?
What makes your presentation, delivery, and customer service stand out?

To help you formulate your answers, ask others why they purchase your services or products. You may discover a uniqueness you don’t even tout! In any case, you are sure to get useful information.

Turn Your Features Into Benefits

Just as good advertising copy always includes benefits—so must your introduction. People buy a stove primarily because it cooks food, not because of its height or color. Why do people buy your products and service? What benefits do they receive by dealing with you? What you need to do is turn your/your company features into benefits. Keep in mind that features are characteristics and highlights. Benefits are advantages and outcomes.
That I have owned my own business for more than 10 years is a feature. That I have worked with entrepreneurs and Fortune 100 companies during that time and how I use the experiences to help you is a benefit. The fact that I use Inscape Publishing assessment tools is a feature. That I have extensive, award-winning experience with DISC and can apply it to almost any business or personal situation that arises is a benefit.
This is a simple process, not necessarily an easy one. Be willing to spent time on it! Again, ask clients and peers how they benefit from working with you. Ask your boss what he/she values as your greatest contributions.
Every time you plan a sales call, take time to turn your features into benefits for the potential/actual customer. You will find it well worth the time and effort!

Verbal Business Card Ingredients

Here are content suggestions for a general introduction. You can vary as you see fit for your internal and industry ones.

To be Included

Your first and last name is vital even if you are wearing a nametag. (There’s more on introductions in Chapter 15). Also vital is what you do. Ever notice how many people tell you are they are and how they do what they do … rather than what they do, which is what you asked. Include the benefits you have derived from your features. Lastly, use active verbs. Verbs are considered active when the subject performs the action ... exactly the feeling you want to convey. They add zest and vitality to your speaking even when you naturally are not a zestful and vital speaker. Take advantage of them!

Probably not Included

Do not include your company name unless it adds value to your first few seconds of interaction. When I worked for AT&T in the 1980s, I often used the company name because of the positive connotation. I don’t use Duoforce Enterprises, even though I am proud of my company. It is not a household name and, therefore, doesn’t add immediate value.
Leave out your company location unless for some reason it will intrigue or interest someone else. (It can be vital for internal interactions when you work for a company with multiple locations.)
My grammar lesson here is to avoid adjectives and adverbs. They reflect opinions, usually yours, and often are exaggerated and superfluous. Refrain from telling people you are the best, quickest, greatest or most reliable within the opening seconds of meeting them.

Not Included

This is not a time to flaunt titles like CEO, COO, president, vice president or company founder. Titles may make it appear as if you need to affirm your self-worth. Also shy away from business labels like accountant, attorney and trainer. Again, they add little value in those precious first moments. For instance, if I were to introduce myself as a trainer, it could be interpreted in many ways such as an animal trainer, personal trainer, soft skills trainer, technology skills trainer, etc. You want to keep people’s mind on you, rather than giving them a reason to ponder on what kind of trainer you are.
Avoid “how” you do it at this point. Again, I might deliver my services through training … but I’m not yet ready to get into that. I want to intrigue them with the “what.”
Also, stay away from exaggerated claims (easier to do when you eliminate adjectives and adverbs) and industry jargon.

Here are some before and after examples from people I have coached in the process:

Before: I’m John Smith (name has been changed), and I’m a psychologist. I do stress management programs to help you get over the stress in your career, especially when you lose your job.

After: I’m John Smith, and I have developed a three-point program to help you take your career to a new level.

John had come to me concerned that people were not being receptive to his introduction. In his case, particularly, his business label of psychologist was not a plus. The last thing people in transition want to hear is that they might need a psychologist to help them!

Before: I’m Ron Jodlowski, and I provide turnaround and operations benchmarking in areas of quality, cost, supplier performance, productivity and other critical points of performance for a healthier business

After: I’m Ron Jodlowski. I help start-ups through mid-sized companies prosper and grow. I locate and solve problems in areas such as financial, personnel, operations, sales and marketing.

The How
One of the ways to test if your verbal business card is working is to make sure it invokes the one question you want asked, “How do you do it?”

Excerpted from Breakthrough Networking: Building Relationships That Last, Second Edition.

Author's Bio: 

Lillian D. Bjorseth is a people skills speaker, trainer and consultant who also is author of Breakthrough Networking: Building Relationships That Last. lillian@duoforce.com www.duoforce.com 800-941-3788