One of the most difficult challenges for business professionals, entrepreneurs, and new managers is being able to tell their own story.What do I mean? When it comes to getting the next promotion, finding a new job, or making the next sale, telling YOUR story can be hard.
I don’t know what it is or why it is, but I see this so many times. Heck, I even struggle with it sometimes. Despite having run 5 start ups, counseled dozens of companies, and coached thousands of professionals, I still occasionally get stuck telling my own story. How about you?
Think of it this way….good comedians don’t build the story line of a good joke and stop near the end to let you, the listener, decide what the punch line should be. It won’t be funny. When you get the chance to talk with a prospect, a potential new boss, or a new customer, you might have a good lead in, but can you close the story with an appropriate punchline?
Job Seekers looking for new opportunities need to be able to significantly contribute to the selection process by telling an effective “transition story”. What this means is to develop a strong and compelling bridge between what you did before and what you can do now for the new employer. This often involves taking your former employment positions and reshaping the explanation of what they were into the language and focus of what the prospective employer is and does.
Too many job candidates leave this critical phase of the interviewing process up to the interviewer, recruiter, or hiring manager. No, YOU must be the maker of this destiny. It’s YOUR story; you need to be the one telling it. So if you are a job candidate, why would you work hard to write an effective resume, score an interview, and then stop short to leave the punch line up to the interviewer?
Professionals already inside a company need to keep this concept alive too. You should never cease to be able to tell your story when new opportunities come up. Even more important is the ability to tell your story when you attend social functions or networking events. You never know when the next great opportunity might be sitting on the edge of someone else’s lips, but your failure to connect with that person can let that great chance get away without your name on it.
You need to take charge of your transition story. Focus on creating a good, firm story of how your abilities will translate and shift into productive outcomes for a new employer, a new client, or a new connection. Here are some ways to nail this down:
- Structure the content – collect your thoughts, ideas, and keywords that serve to formulate the right content for your story.
- Have a beginning, middle, and end – all great stories are structured this way. Tell me one you know that is not. There aren’t any.
- Practice it regularly – be ready to exercise the story regularly at social events or networking functions. Be brave, be bold. But be prepared.
- Take feedback – let people give you feedback about how the story landed; was it understood or do you need to clear up some areas?
- Keep working on it – add fresh new information as things change. You may have achieved a big new accomplishment that is worthy of being included. A recent client matter, a new sale, or a promotion make good add-ins to the story.
- Don’t forget the punchline – how many times have you tried joke telling and forget the punchline? Embarrassing right? The same holds true with your story. Create a solid punchline to hammer the message home.
A good friend and talented writer, Rick Gillis covers these ideas in his latest book “PROMOTE!: It’s Who Knows What You Know That Makes a Career“. Check it out. I think you will learn a whole lot more about this vitally important aspect of your professional life.
[reminder]What does your story sound like? Share with the group.[/reminder]