Five ways to describe yourself in business

These days everyone is “blue sky thinking” and I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been told I need to “unplug in order to connect”.

However, the tide doesn’t stop at annoying catchphrases. In a world full of ‘Twitter Consultants’ and ‘Chief Motivation Officers’, it is now more important than ever that you are cautious in the way you describe yourself – and your business.

We are often told how NOT to describe ourselves in business, but what are the best ways to talk about yourself to create a good first impression?

· Tell people what it is you actually do, not just your job title. A lot of titles can verge on the bombastic. In an age where a receptionist can describe themselves – with a straight face – as a Director of First Impressions, it is important to communicate what you actually do, rather than just your title. Often titles are ambiguous and may not convey your specialist expertise or knowledge of a certain sector – all of which can play down your strengths and limit your success when networking.

· Compare yourself to the competition – why are you better? For service businesses, such as accountancy, there are plenty of service providers to choose from and you should not be afraid to tell people why you stand out. This does not mean launching into an egotistical rant, but there is little space in the business world for self-deprecation. Remember, you are selling yourself and your business.

· Track record – Don’t be afraid to tell people what you’ve done and celebrate your success. People want to identify with a successful, proven business and that goes for suppliers/service providers too. Name-dropping particular projects or well-known companies you have worked with highlights your capabilities and encourages potential clients to put their trust in you. It is also a good way to find common ground with potential clients as you may have mutual contacts, who can vouch for your services. Recommendations are your greatest form of advertising – both on a business and personal level.

· Direct approach – make sure you are to the point with everything you are saying. In business, time is money and people value a direct and honest approach. Try to avoid waffling about the minor details, as this will lose your audience’s attention very quickly.

· Positivity – whatever you say should be positive about you and extol your own virtues. You must ensure you are not critical of individuals or organisations directly , as people will associate you with a negative attitude and wonder what you say about them in private!

Jamie Morrison, partner at chartered accountants HW Fisher & Company