In a previous blog, we covered the importance of having a good elevator pitch.
Today we will expand on that theme to include why you need to think beyond your elevator pitch and create a great story of who you are as a professional.
We all love a good story but in the workplace…
Why would I need a story, when would I use a story and most importantly how to create a good story – I hear you ask?
Let’s find out now…
Not every encounter will be an elevator ride
In your professional life, you will spend a lot of time engaging with others.
Some of these ‘others’ will be people you have not met before and in circumstances that may feel uncomfortable to you, e.g. networking events, business conferences, and company socials.
You may not have the ‘gift of the gab’ or feel confident in such settings and let’s face it…
…for many people, the idea of having to network fills them with dread and quite frankly… fear.
In situations where you will be engaging for longer than a few seconds, it becomes important to know how to present yourself… your knowledge, skills, experience, and contribution.
In other words – your value.
Having a story will facilitate better engagement and help you benefit from the lucrative relationships you could create in such an environment.
Many have secured future opportunities at networking events and conferences.
At these events there are people at all levels in your industry, so such a setting can be advantageous to your professional future.
Similar to knowing what you need to do to create a good elevator pitch, there are things you can do to create your story… a good story… a good story that fuels engagement… a good story that fuels engagement and makes a lasting impact – you get the point.
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The Before, the During and, the After…
At business events, things can become monotonous after the first couple of hours. The many conversations you have with others will mix with their other conversations and melt into one big ball of content.
To stand out in the mind of others, you need to be interesting and bring something of value to that person.
To accomplish this and make it look effortless, you should create your story with elements spanning three time frames.
Before your events.
A couple of things to consider here are:
1. Do your research prior to events
Know your target market i.e. their problems, pain points, how you can solve these issues, and which competitors are of greatest concern.
This will help you to differentiate yourself by proposing something different. Your perspective will be unique. You will immediately stand out and be remembered from all the other conversations that person may have had that day.
2. Prepare your mindset
A fluid conversation may not happen for you naturally, so by preparing your mindset you prepare yourself for successful engagements.
You can remove nervousness, boost your confidence and ensure the conversation flows more naturally.
During your events.
Although there are many items to consider as outlined in the course, Achieving Professional Excellence, but we will cover three important ones:
1. Seek to understand the other person first
We all love to feel validated and heard. When you seek to understand the other person and display genuine interest in them, most will reciprocate the courtesy and be more receptive to what you have to say. More importantly, you can use this understanding to tweak your story accordingly. This makes the conversation more dynamic and enjoyable for both.
2. Keep your points focused and relevant to the discussion
This avoids the other party losing interest. Pay attention to non-verbal cues and be aware of whether you can continue with your story at the same pace or you need to summarise it and change the focus of your story. Don’t ramble on… the goal is to keep them wanting to hear more of what you have to say.
3. Identify similarities and use them to build a connection
We automatically identify with people who are similar to us. Find something in common … a hobby, perhaps you attended the same university or read the same book, did the same course – even a personality trait such as integrity can be used. Find something in common with the other person and incorporate it into your story.
After your events.
Continue your story in your follow-up message.
Firstly, keep your promise to follow up as it shows you are dependable and reliable.
In your follow-up message, recall a shared event to make it easier for the person to remember you and summarise the value part of your story that was discussed during your conversation. This will make the other person receptive to further interaction with you.
For many, creating your story can be helpful in situations where the easier option is to find an excuse not to attend.
This video will give you tips to influence people so you can influence stakeholders, others at work, anyone at events and persuade people when you network. Watch this video to know exactly what to do when you don’t know what to say!
It doesn’t have to be…
It may feel overwhelming at first but as with most things, it gets easier with repetition.
Create your story, keep refining it and keep practising.
… remember, stay curious and keep learning.
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