Avoiding Job Titles

Putting yourself in a box is not always positive.

How do you introduce yourself to other professional contacts?

I'm not talking about explaining "what you do", which includes quite a bit of storytelling and polarization. But about the title you add under your name on the business card or social media profiles. Your job title, if you ever had to create one.

Alan Weiss, in the classic "Million Dollar Consulting", makes an interesting suggestion:

"Don't call yourself a coach, a consultant, a speaker, or a trainer (or anything else). Call yourself an expert. Your expertise can be delivered in numerous ways (coaching, speaking, consulting, and so forth), but you don't want to arbitrarily box yourself into what may be unattractive packaging for some.

Focus on your value proposition, which should be a business outcome for the buyer; never focus on your methodology. If you're a sales expert, for example, don't talk about your sales training sessions. Instead: "My expertise is in dramatically decreasing closing times while cutting the costs of acquisition.""

When I revisited this passage, I was stopped in my tracks. On one hand, I do deliver my expertise in different ways - consulting, training, and coaching. On the other, for a year or so I've been promoting myself as an advisor.

Language, as you know, is not regulated. We can use "consultant" and "advisor" interchangeably, and in this case, I stuck with the former to highlight a bigger emphasis on strategy rather than implementation. But today I see this has also refrained great prospects that were looking for practical and hands-on support to growth - which I provide - from reaching out.

That's why I think Alan's suggestion of avoiding titles and focusing entirely on your value proposition makes sense. It opens the possibility of delivering your expertise in different ways, while avoiding a downstream or execution-focused positioning (the danger David C. Baker highlights here).

Take 5 minutes now and ask yourself:

  • What's your "job title"?
  • How does it influence the way your prospects, clients, and overall audience look at your work and consulting practice? Which offerings are highlighted by it, and which ones are not aligned?
  • How could you replace it with your value proposition, focused on business outcomes for your buyers?

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