F-031 30 second Info-mercial (or Personal Introduction)

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An important part of every HAPPEN meeting is the opportunity for all new members
(and visitors, if time permits) to introduce themselves. This brief tip sheet, along with
other information presented to all new members and visitors, can provide valuable
information that can help you understand the importance of a 30 second Infomercial.
Chances are that you will be reading this after you have attended your first HAPPEN
meeting, and done your infomercial. And while this article is primarily intended for those
who attend a HAPPEN meeting for the first time, it can also be helpful in future as well.

For example, it can be an effective way to introduce yourself at a HAPPEN networking
table. Or if you are being interviewed for a job opportunity, no doubt the interviewer will
ask the dreaded question: “Tell us about yourself”. The 30 second infomercial can be a
quick and effective way to answer the question, as well as telling them how you can help
their company. Finally, it’s important to let others know that you are looking for work.
The infomercial can be a useful tool in doing that. More tips on how to use the
infomercial concept can be found at the end of this article.

At HAPPEN, we believe it’s all about networking. HAPPEN offers many benefits to our
members. You can learn about those benefits by visiting our Web site: www.happen.ca or
by talking to other HAPPEN members. Whether it’s examining the job postings sent to us
by recruiters, HR people and others in hiring positions around Southern Ontario,
sharpening your resume or interview skills, listening to excellent speakers who discuss
relevant aspects of the job market, or for many other reasons, HAPPEN can be an
important tool in your career transition.

But if you wanted to sum up HAPPEN in one word – it’s “networking”. HAPPEN is
dedicated to helping everyone learn how to become a better networker. Why?
Networking is still the most effective way to find your next job. You may have a great
resume and impressive credentials. But that’s only part of the story. It still comes down to
who you know. Personal contacts who can help you. You can get those contacts through
networking. And a key element of networking is being able to introduce yourself, your
background, and what you are looking for – quickly, briefly and so that you will

Over the years, we have learned that the most effective method to introduce yourself is
through what we call the 30 second infomercial. In this article, you will learn more about
this concept. Let’s go through this concept using the Powerpoint presentation you see at
each meeting as our guide.

As the first Powerpoint slide says, in a group setting like a HAPPEN meeting, you only
have 30 seconds to make a good first impression. Let’s look at two key points here:
First, many studies have shown that 30 seconds is the maximum time element before you
start to lose your audience. People have short attention spans, and may also suffer from
information overload. We also live in a fast-paced society where people want everything
done yesterday. After 30 seconds, not only will you lose the audience, but they will likely
tune out your message and forget about you.

Second, we all generate impressions. How we present ourselves to others says a lot about
ourselves, and what others may think of others. It might be the clothes we wear, our
facial expressions, posture or tone of voice – just to name a few. Even our attitude can
generate an impression to those we meet. If you smile and act in a positive manner, it
helps create a good impression. But impressions are even more important when it’s a
FIRST impression. You want to present the best first impression you can, so that others
will have a positive view of you. It’s especially important when you go for a job
interview, or for other elements of job hunting.

Now you may be reading this and thinking to yourself that first impressions are important
in every aspect of life. But how does all this relate to HAPPEN? When you come to a
meeting for the first time, it’s likely that we don’t know you and you don’t know us. At
HAPPEN, we want to create a positive networking environment. In its purest form,
networking is all about people helping people. People form that “first impression” within
the first 30 seconds. You want it to be a good one! If you make that good first impression,
you can increase your chances of people wanting to help you. In turn, if you create that
good first impression, you will also want to help them. People helping each other.That’s
how networking happens, and that’s how we achieve positive results that work for
everyone! And as someone once said, you never get a second chance to make a good first

The next slide introduces you to the “CCM” model that plays an important role in the 30
second infomercial. So what exactly do we mean by “CCM”? No, this isn’t the sporting
goods company. You may have ridden a CCM bike as a kid, or glided around the local
ice rink on CCM skates. But to a HAPPEN member, “CCM” stands for “Clear, Concise
and Memorable”. These are the three elements to keep in mind when doing a 30 second
infomercial – let’s take a moment to break down the “CCM” model:


To introduce yourself effectively, you need to have a clear focus, and be able to
share with the others at any HAPPEN meeting exactly what you are looking for at this
stage in your career. As many people have said, we can’t help you unless we know your
needs. So it’s important to us that you can clearly define your career goals, and be able to
share with us where you want to go next.

If you’re not entirely sure what you’re looking for at this time in your career – that’s OK.
The days of someone spending 40 years with one company are over, and in today’s
economy, people can change their careers several times over the years. Career transition
is actually a good time to take an “inventory” of your life, both professionally and
personally. HAPPEN offers a number of resources that can help you manage your career,
and even help you with other aspects of your life.


Remember that this is supposed to be a “30 second” infomercial. You don’t
have a few minutes, only a few seconds. Stay focused and on track. Just like the
HAPPEN Profiles that you will learn about at today’s Orientation, your infomercial
should be a “teaser”. We noted above that it’s hard to hold people’s attention beyond 30
seconds. You want to grab people’s attention quickly and then hold it – by doing it in a
concise manner, they will be more likely to listen and want to help you.


The third and arguably most important element of the CCM model. We all
come from different professional backgrounds. If you canvas the room at any HAPPEN
meeting, chances are you will find engineers, accountants, management consultants,
human resources professionals, IT managers and many other profesions. Your own
professional background is important to you – after all, that’s what got you to this point
in your career. But while you are in career transition and looking for that next
opportunity, you are now in Sales and Marketing. You’ve got to “make the sale” to a
prospective employer. So if you have a way to make yourself memorable to others (in a
good way, of course!), make that part of your infomercial.

To network effectively, your Personal Introduction or 30 Second infomercial must tell
others three things in a very clear, concise and memorable manner:

(a) who you are and what you do (your professional background, past employers...)
(b) what you are looking for (how can we help you in your career transition)
(c) what you can give back in return (how you can help us)

Let’s look at these three points in more detail.

Who you are and what you do:

The infomercial starts with information about yourself
(your name, professional background...). Since your time is limited, it’s best to tell us
about your most recent position, especially if you have been with more than one company
during your career – something that’s increasingly common in today’s economy. You
could also tell us how many years you have in your professional field. If you’ve worked
with a well known company, a houshold name that everybody knows (IBM, Microsoft,
Royal Bank, Research in Motion, Procter and Gamble, Stelco, Dofasco...), tell us that

You can use that company as a marketing tool, especially if you still have a good
relationship with them. As noted earlier, we’re all in Sales and Marketing. So if you have
a well known company in your employment history, make that work for you.
What are you looking for (how can we help you): Let’s consider 2 basic points:


HAPPEN has a number of resources that can help you in your career transition –
and many benefits that come from being a member. Some of them were mentioned at the
beginning of this article. This is covered during the Orientation session that occurs during
the second half of all HAPPEN meetings (except on Workshop days – when a brief
session takes place during the break time. Those who attend an Orientation on Workshop
days are also encouraged to attend a “full” session at an upcoming meeting). In other
words, we don’t need to examine what HAPPEN can offer you. That’s what the
Orientation is for.

all of us as HAPPEN members have contacts that we can use to help you. When
you do an infomercial at HAPPEN, it’s quite likely that people will be looking at their
mental “Rolodex” to see if they have any contacts that can help you. And it’s not just at a
HAPPEN meeting. It also takes place online via HAPPENLINK – the electronic edition
of HAPPEN that lets us all keep in touch and offer support in between meetings. The
people who read your e-mails may also have some contacts that can help. If you write an
e-mail on HAPPENLINK asking for information on “X” company, or “Y” recruiter,
chances are that at least one person will have that information you seek.
What can you give back in return (how can you help us): This may be the key point to
emphasize. When people come to HAPPEN, they may be so focused on themselves that
they don’t realize they have things they can give back in return that can help the others in
the room. Networking is a two way street – we can all help each other. In this sense, what
you can give back in return is the “flip side” of the previous point (how we can help you).
This idea of “giving back” is important for two key reasons:
It shows that you have a helping attitude, and that you want to support and care for
others. Job hunting is a stressful experience, and the moral support that each of us
provides for the other is invaluable (especially if you’re going through a “down” time).
If you do exhibit those qualities, people will see that and will be more inclined to help
you (you reap what you sow). That time you spend helping others will come back to you
10 fold – maybe more. And as someone once remarked: What goes around, comes

Each of us has a network of contacts that we can share with others.
From a business perspective it could be former employers and/or those you came in
contact with during previous jobs (your former co-workers, people you knew at other
companies in the same field “the competition”, suppliers, members of the same
professional association you belong to...). Those are people who can help the others in
the room at any HAPPEN meeting.

There are, of course, many examples of non-business contacts that you can use to help us.
Some examples include family and friends, social contacts, those you know from
community organizations, the other parents from your kids sports teams, your religious
affiliations, high school, college or university alumini asociations. These and many others
will all have contacts that can help you network.

If you take some time to write down everyone that you know that has valuable contact
information, you should get at least 200 names. At HAPPEN, we recommend you do this,
as this can form the starting point of effective networking. And this is a list you can share
with others, especially once as you listen to their 30 second infomercial and find out what
they are looking for. As they present their infomercial – listen carefully. By doing so, you
should be able to determine what contacts you have that can match what that person is
looking for. That’s your mental “Rolodex” we noted before. In that sense, you are
“giving back”, just as outlined above.

The last element of the infomercial is to repeat your name. Doing this serves as a
reinforcement for everyone – chances are we’ve never met you before. Perhaps people
weren’t paying attention when you started and didn’t hear your name at the beginning. So
it’s wise to finish the infomercial the same way you started – with your name. As an
option, you may also want to remind everyone of your professional background.
Now that we have set the stage, here’s an example of a 30 second infomercial – as written
by Wayne Gilbert, the original author of this article:


1. My name is Wayne Gilbert.

2. I have a background in general management, operations, marketing and sales in the
packaging and container manufacturing industries with expertise in plastics, metals and

3. I help companies identify their most critical issues then work with them to develop and
implement strategies that deliver – and sustain – profits and growth. If you know a
company, or know people who may know companies that can use my services,
I'd really appreciate learning more about them.

4. If I can use my network of contacts in the packaging, container manufacturing,
plastic, metal or chemical industries to help you with your search, I'd be more than
pleased to do so.

Close the informercial with one of the following:

5. a) Once again, my name is Wayne Gilbert. I look forward to meeting you, learning
what you are looking for, and how we can help each other.
5. b) Once again, my name is Wayne Gilbert. Now tell me about yourself. What do you
do, what are you looking for, and how I can help you?
Use 5 a) when addressing HAPPEN or other networking meeting or large group of

Use 5 b) when networking one-on-one


Stay away from buzz-words, jargon or “inside talk” associated with your particular
profession or industry. Remember your target audience. If you were doing this at a
meeting of your own professional association – they will know the “jargon”. But as noted
earlier, you will have many professions represented at a typical HAPPEN meeting. Keep
your presentation general and simple – otherwise you will lose your audience.

Canada is an increasingly multicultural society, with immigrants coming here from
around the world. So if you’re new to HAPPEN and if English is not your mother tongue,
take your time and speak a little slower. 30 seconds can be a long time, especially in a
different language. Slow down and make sure you are fully understood.

The same applies if you’re not used to public speaking or if you’re a bit anxious being in
an environment like HAPPEN. It’s only natural for people to feel that way about doing
an infomercial. Many studies have shown that public speaking is the number one fear for
people. But you’re among friends, and there is no need to be afraid. Every HAPPEN
member has been where you are, and presented his or her informercial to those who were
there on their first day. They may have even done it several times since then. Relax,
enjoy the moment, and then feel good about your accomplishment.

Although you are telling ourselves about yourself – focus on how you can help a
company or how you can help the others in attendance today.

Chances are that you will be invited to use a microphone to do your infomercial. It’s a
useful device, especially if you have a soft voice, or have difficulty projecting it. Hold the
microphone close to your mouth (just like the rock stars at a concert). It will ensure that
the microphone picks up your voice, and that everyone will be able to hear your

As noted back at the beginning, chances are that you are reading this article after doing
your own infomercial at a HAPPEN meeting. If that’s you – congratulations. Presenting
your infomercial at HAPPEN can be a bit initimidating for some folks, but you’ve now
taken the first step to becoming an effective networker. And when you combine that with
everything else you experienced at your first HAPPEN meeting, you’re well on your

The next step is to take ownership of this concept. Work on your infomercial, and be
prepared to use it whenever it seems appropriate.

Wordsmith the infomercial to find the right impact words, which will best describe your
skills and background, as well as making that good first impression with those who hear
it. Time it, and make sure it comes out as close to 30 seconds as possible.

Once you have your infomercial, try to memorize it – keep rehearsing and practicing your
infomercial until it sounds completely natural and unrehearsed. Think of opportunities
that you can use to practice your infomercial. Have it ready at a moment’s notice – you
never know when someone might be interested in learning more about you. Whether
you’re talking to a HAPPEN member or not, they will also have contacts that they may
wish to use to help you.

Have a 60, 90 or 120 second edition of your infomercial ready to go. All you need to do
is take the basic elements of the 30 second infomercial and expand on the

We wish you all the best – and don’t hesitate to ask for help!

Article written by Wayne Gilbert, published in May 2003
Revised edition: August 2006 by Greg Brown (2nd revision: February 2008)
Although Wayne and Greg are the primary authors of this article, we also want to
thank Joe Anzini, Dan Bishop, Jim Geraghty, John Heeney, and Robin Wright –
fellow HAPPEN members who have also facilitated meetings and have offered
insights on how to do infomercials.