We all have certain things we want to achieve in our lives: a career in the c-suite, a promotion, or finding work that feeds our passion and leads us to a success-filled life. For many of us, our strategy focuses on building the experience, technical skills, and pedigree that we think will guarantee our success. Achieving our dreams and being successful require a strategy beyond just building the requisite profile and expertise. Success in whatever we choose to do comes down to having others invest in seeing us succeed so much so, that they find ways to help us do just that. The success you can achieve when others believe, promote, and support you on your journey is extraordinary. This type of support extends your reach and gives you a competitive advantage—others will know and trust you even before they speak to you based on what people they know have to say and believe about you. How can you do everything in your power to tell your story in a way that garners the level of support that results in others advocating on your behalf? The answer is simple: you need to get your story right.
Achieving this goes beyond creating a great first impression, and is more complex than you might think at first glance. Telling the right story about yourself means delivering the message in a powerful way, which guarantees others will clearly understand what makes you uniquely qualified, how you can best serve their needs, and keeps them wanting to know more about you and how you can help them succeed. Getting the story right, however, means more than just sharing your resume. It means sharing who you are in a way that enables others to understand you intrinsically and in a uniquely personal way long after the initial conversation has faded. Telling your story in this way forms the framework so that others can begin promoting and advocating on your behalf. Getting your story right means taking the focus off what you need and shifting it to what they need to choose you.
In order to be able to make this shift from what you need to what they need, here are a few things you need to do:
- Begin by getting crystal clear in your own mind about what you bring to the table. This involves more than just your successes—it also includes lessons learned from your failures. Determine which of these have the most relevance in the current situation, provide the most benefit to the other person, and be able to share them in a concise and convincing way.
- Spend more time in the conversation listening than talking, even though this seems counter intuitive. Ask questions so that you learn more about what the other person values and needs. Once you know this, you can reflect back to the areas where you are in sync by sharing real experiences that embody the skill or result that meets their needs. Listening helps you identify areas that need clarification. It also enables you to address concerns in the moment and creates the resonance needed to make it easy for them to see you in that role.
- Make sure you talk about how you are different from your competition. Ensure that you do so in a way that does not diminish others, and also demonstrates your sense of integrity and fair-mindedness. Demonstrate your sincerity, confidence, and commitment to the success of others as well as yourself. Be honest and position yourself as someone they can rely on.
- Be on the alert for opportunities where you can deliver value to them immediately and be of service to them by stating what you would do. This doesn’t mean give away the store, but selectively give them something that shows you are the solution to the need they have, and demonstrates your ability and desire to contribute.
- Be brief, descriptive, and focus on how what you do / did benefits them and will lead to their success. The first sentence you speak should explain how your actions and skill set met the strategic objectives of the person or organization you did this for in the past. The second sentence should focus and frame the most significant results of the action taken, and be tailored to the context most closely related to the person you are presently speaking with. Make sure that what you say generates more questions like: “Tell me more about how you did that?” or “How could you do that here?”
- Show up and approach the conversation with the long-view in mind. Understand that you have to actively campaign and share information about yourself before, during, and after the conversation. Look for opportunities to follow-up and reinforce your story and the seriousness of your intentions. Know that this level of engagement brings about the person’s investment in your success, and makes it more likely they will remember you if another opportunity arises and talk about you with others.
- Let them know you realize they have the power to help you achieve your goal. Be sure to ask them for their insight into how best to succeed in their eyes. Talk with them about what you can do to make them feel good about making the choice and choosing you, and show your willingness to be mentored and coached.
Getting your story right isn’t as much about telling the story you want to tell, but telling your story the way they need to hear it. If done well, getting your story right means painting a vivid picture that others can easily share about what you have to offer, who you are, and why they support you so strongly. The right story builds the connection needed to have others become invested in seeing you succeed so much so that they take action on your behalf.
How do you plan to tell your story? I love to hear from you.