What if we stopped introducing people by their job titles?

blank business cards

A big part of networking is giving to others, and making introductions is a powerful way to do this. You foster connections and build community by introducing people who might not otherwise have known each other. And a common way we introduce people is by their job titles. However, are selling our friends—and, by extension ourselves—short when we focus solely on what they do instead of who they are?

Over on Storyline, Cadence Turpin writes about how at a recent gathering, a friend of hers lamented being able to connect with people solely through her job. By leading with her job title, she felt stuck and boring. Cadence’s response? She’ll start introducing her friends by what she loves most about them:

What if instead of introducing your friend as Jennifer the nurse, you started introducing her as Jennifer, one of most thoughtful people you know, or Jennifer the friend who helped you move in when you didn’t know a soul in this city.

Introducing your friends for who they are rather than focusing on what they do will remind them they are loved before and beyond their titles. It’s an easy way to remind them that you see them for their hearts instead of their accomplishments.

Her closing line is especially powerful:

Networking builds an empire, but thoughtful introductions build a community. Where will you lay your bricks?

Read the rest of her blog here.

I’ve noticed that at events or even casual get-togethers, it’s very easy to introduce people by their job titles. Job titles are usually what most people recognize and can relate to. However, as Cadence notes, it can stifle people and actually hide what you love about the people in your community and what makes them unique.

That being said, I can imagine the follow up question to this kind of introduction: “So, what do you do?”

What do you think? Will you introduce people differently? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Former Editor and Creator of Idealist Careers, a publication of Idealist.org. Follow me on Twitter @ajlovesya.
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    • Naima
    • October 8, 2014

    Really appreciated this! I’m going to start leading with this approach.

      • Pritam Kamath
      • October 11, 2014

      I highly appreciate your advice.This has given me an new dimension about introduction of self as well as for an friend.
      Thank you

    • Renee
    • October 10, 2014

    Great advice. There is so much more to people than their what positions they hold — at least there should be.

    • monique
    • October 13, 2014

    When I meet someone for the first time I ask them, “What do you like to do, or how do you spend your time during the day?” This opens up the conversation and doesn’t narrow it down to just a job title. I find that people really appreciate this.

    • Daphne Steinberg
    • October 18, 2014

    This is genius. There is far more to most of us than our titles would have those who’ve never met us believe.
    When I introduce my hubby to my friends, I simply say, “This is my husband, Gary.” That leaves the door wide open to find out about him. And by the way, he ABHORS being asked, “What do you do?”

    • Bridget
    • November 29, 2014

    Great article. People should be introduced as people, not by their job title, or they could be introduced by their name and their industry. Too often we judge people, good or bad, by their title. The title doesn’t define who they are, the content of their character does. Networking is a great tool, but knowing the person as the framework around what they do and how they’ve achieved it is what counts.

    • Adrian
    • January 29, 2015

    I believe this idea would be a much better way of hiring people and even just meeting new people. What I find individuals looking for more than ever right now is a person with “keeper” qualities and someone who is desired to be with or to plainly just have around. Like at job interviews, employers are looking to see what type of person you are and what you do in your personal time so they know who they are hiring, or at least to get an idea of who they portray themselves to be. Which could ultimately be a characteristic that is desired by a particular workforce. It opens up more of who they are versus what they are. For many individuals, their job is not something they enjoy and desire to do and therefore does not say much about who they are except what they don’t like. Versus the individuals who do enjoy their job and the job defines what they like to do. When a worker can say they do their job in their spare time, you know that they are happy with what they do.

    • Racquel Camarillo
    • January 29, 2015

    I like this article because it gives off a positive vibe. It focuses on what people would want in building a stable community without making anyone feel like an outcast. Although job titles are important, it’s nice to know that some people really don’t care what kind of job you have, rather the person you are. Whether the job be higher end or lower end, the person carrying that title is still a person with character. The job a person carries doesn’t define them and that’s what this article is about. It’s also about how being introduced through job titles can create a bridge between the people getting introduced because it causes them to be compared, and no one likes being compared especially by what they do for work.

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