Think about all the situations where you meet people for the first time: cocktail parties, networking events, plane rides, etc. In those situations, one of the first questions you will invariably be asked is, “So what do you do?”

When faced with this obligatory ice-breaking question, does your answer start a conversation or cut it short?

According to research, most people, especially those of us in sales or sales-related fields, interact with around three new people every day, which amounts to over 1,100 new introductions per year and over 80,000 in our lifetimes. Yet, despite the frequency with which we do it, not to mention the potential impact first impressions have on the relationships we create and results we produce, few of us pay much attention to how we introduce ourselves. If you could record your interactions, chances are you take too long, stumble and stammer too much, and lack confidence.

Here’s a simple 4-step formula to create a strong first impression:

“Help” (or some version of the word ‘help’)
Whoever it is you help
What you help them accomplish

Learning to describe yourself in a single sentence like this will make you more memorable, strengthen your personal brand, and, I believe, build your self-confidence.

Imagine, for example, you are introduced to someone at a party and he responds to your “What do you do?” question with, “I’m in I.T.” If you were interested in Information Technology, that might interest you, but if you weren’t, chances are you would either be looking to change the subject or looking for a way to exit the conversation. But what if, instead, he responded with, “I help small businesses utilize technology to build their brands and expand their markets.” Wouldn’t that leave more of an impression on you?

When I consider my own situation, here’s what I would say: “I help people present the best version of themselves.” Although my role as a business owner encompasses many other responsibilities, this introduction summarizes what I feel is my greatest contribution.

By Matthew Wiebe via unsplash

So how can you apply this formula to you? Here are some examples:

Commercial Banker: “I help businesspeople fund their dreams.”
Event Planner: “I create events people remember.”
Hair Stylist: “I help people¬†look and feel their best.”
Realtor: “I help people find their dream home.”
Pastor: “I connect people to God… and to one other.”

Remember, creating a strong personal brand starts with making a great first impression, which starts with answering the question, “How can I best articulate the value I create for others?”

How about you? How can you best describe what you do and who it benefits? I’d love to get your feedback.