During long discussions with designers over the years, often the subject that our roles are not understood properly is mentioned as if it’s a badge to wear. It’s changed over the years, from “they’ve no idea what I do, they’ve got me designing PowerPoint presentations” to “they just made the decision themselves” to the unacceptable “they didn’t even include me in the meeting”.

Sound familiar?
Of course it does and you know why? We’ve all said it, damn it I’VE said it.
The amount of times over the years I’ve complained about “teams not getting it” or asking people around me “why didn’t they ask me to do it?” And they’ve replied
“We didn’t know that’s what you do”.

Gosh.

It’s taken a while to realise it was my fault, and when I knew this it was so obvious.

The turning point?
Have you ever been asked at a wedding to do your elevator pitch? “So what do you do?”

Of course you have, and in 6-seconds-you-have-between-floors to answer: “umm I’m a… designer”

“….. that’s great”

If I can’t tell a stranger what I do for my 9-5 what chance does a team have?

I use to introduce myself as:

“Hi, I’m a designer, I design websites for companies. Sometimes I design emails, logos and often I build websites too”.

So general, so boring, so me me me.

This way of introducing is “pattern fitting”, it’s forcing them down the avenue of “what you want them to want you for”.

People want the answer to be around them, they are the hero here - they are either looking for a solution for themselves or want to help a friend - it’s cool to send a message to someone “hey, I’ve met someone who will help you do your thing and turn it into reality”.

I was once told a quick tip to remember when doing your pitch: Tell a story, it’s not about you, it’s about them.

Break it down into three steps:

  1. The who,
  2. The do,
  3. They can.

The who’s

The who’s is a great one to open up, but often the toughest. A lot is relying on you knowing the answer, and being proud of it. Your audience parents of new borns? Or Dog owners? Or agencies short of staff? Whatever it is, it’s a niche, it’s your speciality.

Get specific on the who - if it doesn’t suit their needs, I promise you they will know someone who it does.

The do

My favourite one, this is the one which is the most fun, once you’ve got this worked out you’ll have the skills to make people believe in you, respect you and more important know what you do.

Do - this is after your work, after your solution - talk about how great lives are after. If they are interested - talk more about it, if not you might need to change your approach to match them (you’ll do something they’ll need or like), find the common ground and hone in on this.

They can’s

What’s the point of this all? Leading to telling them what you can do for them. So you design websites for start ups? What is it you actually do for these start ups? Help with growing their user base? Build communities? Whatever it is, make them picture success - their success, the projects success.

Putting this all together is no easy feat, but once mastered it’ll help integrate you into a team, sell your work, and educate anyone nearby to what you do, hopefully leaving no doubt.

I’ve fluffed many introductions, but with this template it goes something like:

I’m an interaction designer for DWP, I (help teams) help the general public have an easier life by providing them with a simple way of using online and offline services, enabling them to take control and manage their own life and make the whole process as stressless as possible.

This should warrant enough of a response to find out more, this is new territory so don’t fluff your lines now - you’ve got them!

Depending on interest, I would them dip into a bit more about the process - how do I enable the users to manage their own life with examples, then go into success stories.

How to turn this into your day to day work?
If you can make a stranger understand your role, you can certainly make someone who is sat either a slack call or a shout over the desk away “get you”.

Maybe you do not need to do the introduction routine, but you can certainly become a lot clearer on your own reason for being there, and help to remind others why you are there, and if you need to introduce yourself to a new starter - then you are prepared to start that relationship off on the right foot.

Hopefully this post has provided value to a tough subject, it’s not perfect but it’s a start and I would love to see and hear how you introduce yourself.


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