The biggest mistake you're making when introducing yourself

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Want to make your introductions more impactful? Stop skipping this one crucial element.

Introductions can be inherently high-pressure and awkward, can't they? No matter how outgoing and vivacious you consider yourself to be, it can be tough to condense who you are and what you do into a few crisp, concise, and impactful sentences.

So, when it comes to shaking hands and introducing yourself to someone new, you likely default to something simple and standard like, "I'm Joe, and I'm the Sales Manager at Company XYZ."

At first glance, it seems effective. It's short, sweet, and it serves the intended purpose--sharing your name and your job title.

But, look closer and you'll notice that it's missing something important. While it may seem complete and polished, it's really lacking one crucial element that helps to take your introductions to the next level.

What's that? Quite simply, the value that you bring to the table.

Why is sharing value important?

Sure, spitting out your job title is a key part of an introduction, but it's really only a slice (and, often a somewhat ambiguous slice) of the whole pie. So, you want to make sure you emphasize not only what you do, but why you do it.

This is important for everyone, but particularly for those of us with job titles or occupations that don't immediately provide an adequate picture of what we do day in and day out. For example, when I used to introduce myself as only a "writer", most people would respond with something along the lines of, "Oh, so you're writing a book?"

I can understand their assumption. But, this is actually pretty far from the truth--I've never written a book, and I don't plan to in the near future.

So, instead of sticking with the tried and true introduction of, "I'm Kat, and I'm a writer," I've expanded things just a touch to say something like, "I'm Kat, and I'm a writer who helps businesses and brands engage their audiences through thoughtful blog posts and articles."

See the difference? Instead of just firing off a job title, I'm giving my conversational partner a more specific look at not only what I do, but also why it's important.

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How can you improve your own introduction?

When you're so used to getting through your introduction as fast as humanly possible, I'll admit that this tactic can feel a little unnatural (and possibly even a little arrogant) at first--so adequate preparation is important for making sure that your introduction sounds exactly as you want it to.

Follow these three quick tips to come up with your own introduction that's polished, impactful, and representative of all of the great work you do.

1. Determine What You Bring to the Table

First things first, you need to narrow your focus and determine the most important thing that you want to share with the people you meet. A powerful introduction doesn't require a step-by-step breakdown of your entire career trajectory--it's important that you zone in on the key nuts and bolts.

Sit down with a notepad and jot down the key functions of your position. Getting everything out of your brain and down on paper will help you clearly see the things that should be emphasized.

2. Script Your Introduction

With notepad in hand, now it's time to start scripting a few different introductions you can test drive. Yes, you should actually write out the whole introduction. It'll make the following step that much easier.

Also, remember that brevity is important here. Nobody wants to listen to a long-winded tale of all of your skills and competencies--try to keep your introduction to two or three sentences at most.

3. Read It Aloud

Now that you have a few different alternative introductions scribbled down, it's time to pick the best one. In order to do this, you'll want to read your options aloud.

This is a necessary step to ensure that your introduction sounds natural and genuine, and not forced and robotic. We don't always write the way we speak, so it's important that you actually say those words to catch any spots where you get tripped up.

Finally, it's time to practice. Commit your introduction to memory, so that you can fire it off (with a smile and direct eye contact, no less!) at the drop of a hat. You'll be left with a short--but incredibly powerful--introduction that's sure to leave a positive impression on everyone you meet.

More from Inc.com:
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