Selling Yourself: Whatâ€™s your story?
Toady I am excited to launch a new series all about selling yourself professionally. I hope to cover a wide array of topics throughout this weekly series, including how to market and price your services, how to network successfully and how to best match your skills with an ideal job, among others.
Hopefully these posts will be helpful for both students entering the job market as well as those in the middle of their career looking to transition in some fashion.
As a disclaimer, I do not claim expertise in this area. However, I will reach out to a wide variety of people in order to give you numerous opinions on each topic. Moreover, I will utilize the knowledge I have garnered from peers, teachers and professionals over the years that have helped me shape my own professional strategy.
First and most importantly, let’s talk about perfecting your story. Who are you and what do you offer someone else? Where are you currently in your career and where do you want to go? What do you want to be known for in the future? It is crucial to have clear answers to these questions in order to begin building your personal brand.
I recently attended a seminar by career development consulting group Next Step Partners, where they outlined six questions to ask yourself in order to craft your story:
1. What are the values you live by?
2. What are your greatest talents or abilities?
3. What interests you the most?
4. When colleagues think of you, what are you known for now?
5. What do you want to be known for that you are not known for now?
6. Imagine that ten years from now a colleague is describing you to another colleague. What will s/he say?
Spend some time honestly answering these questions. The more time you give to personally assess your goals now, the stronger your story will be going forward. Think of your story like an entrepreneur thinks of his/her elevator pitch. You want to have a concise brand statement that gives a snapshot of your past and your direction for your future. Next Step Partners suggests including the following four points in your positioning statement:
1. Your professional identity
2. The most relevant, compelling, and unique elements of your experience and areas of strength; the problems you are good at solving; the work you love to do that you want to do more of; what you are known for
3. The types and brand names of the organizations where you have worked
4. The opportunities you are looking for to further your experience and take the next step in your career
It will probably take you several iterations before you perfect this statement. Ideally, it should take between 15 to 20 seconds so remember to stay concise!
I am still perfecting my statement, but here is my current draft to give you an example:
“I am the first dual MBA/MSIS candidate at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and I am extremely passionate about the intersection between entrepreneurship, technology and multimedia. My background is in online journalism but I am now transitioning to digital strategy. When I graduate in 2012, I hope to work in the online sector doing either business development or product management.”
Once you have your story finalized, use it every time somebody asks you questions such as “What do you do?” or “Tell me about yourself.”
Next week I will focus on how to create a professional marketing plan for yourself now that you have a story to pitch!
Tags: advice, career, marketing, professional, selling yourself