Ever participated in speed dating? Well, I have… well, kind of… and it was great fun! I was on a networking evening for project managers. And to speed up the networking, the organisers had the bright idea to use the speed dating technique. So we sat down and everyone had just a few minutes to present themselves to someone else and then you changed partner. It was so much fun!
But… being a multi-potentialite, what do you say in just a few minutes? If you say you’re a multi-potentialite, you need the rest of your ‘speed dating’ time to explain what that is.
On that evening I had put my ‘Project Manager’ hat on, so I only talked about that part, but by doing so, it is only a very, very incomplete image that I’ve sent out. And that annoyed me, because I know that I have many more roles than just that one.
It kept me wondering if there is a better way, to present or introduce yourself to others. Do you need to be complete? Do you want to be explaining over and over again what the word ‘multi-potentialite’ means?
First off all there is the context. Your answer will depend on the answers to the following questions:
- Are you meeting people, attending a business or professional event or do you find yourself in a casual, hobby or private context?
If you’re an employee, you can stick to your job title or a level down, from the tasks you’re currently performing. If you have a business you can ‘invent’ your job title and take the conversation from there.
If you’re in a more casual setting, it’s up to you what you want to express. You can choose to stick to the context and zoom in on your hobby or your link with the occasion or you can zoom out and say that you’re a multi-potentialite with many different interests.
- What role are you currently playing?
This is linked to the previous question. Thinking in terms of roles or responsibilities makes it easier to present yourself to others. For example: In a school, you’re the mum or dad of your son or daughter. In your job you’re responsible for client support, or whatever. In your sports, you’re the captain of the team etc.
Of course this represents only a part of you but people know that you don’t just have this one role. They know that in addition to being a mum or a dad, that you probably have a job and a few hobbies.
- Who’s asking? Who is your ‘target’ audience (and what do they expect)?
If you’re having a job interview and they ask you to present yourself, they will probably interested in different information to when you’re at a wedding party. At a wedding party it can be enough to say that you’re the bride’s best friend, while in a job interview, they are looking for proof that you will be able to do the job.
- Are they just being polite or really interested?
The question “What do you do” is an easy question to continue a conversation after you’ve already discussed the weather. Often people are just being polite and then you can choose an easy answer and let them ‘discover’ more about you later.
Or if you feel like that they are really interested, you might want to explain the main projects that you’re excited about and have a more in-depth conversation.
- Are YOU interested in explaining to them exactly the meaning of the word ‘multi-potentialite’ and telling them what all your different projects are? Or do you want an easy exit?
Maybe you don’t like the person who is asking you what you do or what you’re busy with. Or maybe, at this moment you’re in a hurry and you really don’t have the time to discuss. In that case, a short and sweet answer is the best, one that is immediately clear and that doesn’t create many other questions.
- What do they need to know about you?
What is more boring than knowing everything about someone from the start? You figured that person out. OK, it’s done. Next.Instead, it’s much more interesting to keep a bit of mystery and to let them discover you a little bit at the time. They will keep coming back for more 🙂
So how do you, as a multi-potentialite, present or introduce yourself?
First of all, the way you present yourself must be adapted to the context, occasion, the person who asks, your mood etc. See the Q&A above.
Secondly, if you have trouble to come up with an answer when you get the question “What do you do?”, then you’d better prepare your answer beforehand.
You have the choice to be vague or give details, to be complete or not, to zoom in on a particular role, responsibility or occasion or to zoom out.
If you want to stay vague you can say say: “Oh, I have a lot of different projects going on” or “Well, I do many things”.
If you want to be complete, you can zoom out and stay high level. In this case, your vision statement will surely help you to find the right words (See “How to create an inspiring personal vision statement”).
Zooming in on a particular role, occasion or other detail is even easier. Just use the current context. Remember most people are specialists and don’t expect other people to be different.
And if you feel the one who is asking is genuinely interested and you are willing to do the effort, you can say you’re a multi-potentialite and explain if needed or go into details what your different projects are.
You can be like a chameleon. You can change colour depending on your environment and the circumstances. There is no ‘one size fits all’ answer on how to present yourself to others. But there is a ‘one size fits all’ advice: Be prepared. Prepare your answer for different scenarii because this question will come up each time you meet someone new.
And remember, you don’t have to tell them everything upfront. Let them discover your intriguing personality bit by bit. Keep a touch of mystery!