Tell Your Story to Anyone You Meet
There is something first dates and job interviews have in common, they both require us to develop thoughts and assumptions about a person before they even speak. No matter who you are – and I try really hard not to do this but – we are all making a judgement about other people based on the way they show up in the world (or at our front door). Everything speaks – whether your mouth is open or not.
I have this intense belief that while everyone is not our audience (I’ll save that for another post), everyone you meet can lead you to your audience. As a matter of fact, if you think about every person you meet as new hires for your external sales and marketing team I imagine you might speak to them differently about who you are, what you do, and why you do it. But I’m amazed at the amount of people I meet that have no idea how to share their offering to the world.
Well, guess what? You don’t need a journalism degree to tell your story better. You can just be your fabulous self and adopt some of these tips.
Share what you fix versus services you offer
Have you ever asked someone what they do and they share lots of fancy terms? Think about if you met a highly sophisticated doctor who specialized in the farthest regions of healthcare. Would you need them to explain what the heck they did? So why is tarnation’s (Yosemite Sam voice) would you walk around speaking in buzzwords. Instead, think about sharing the problem that you solve. I could say “we do public relations” or after very carefully listening to you and assessing your needs I might say “we develop culturally sensitive messaging for audiences that you would like to reach,” or “I could say “we build trust with audiences that are often not asked to have a voice.” Your ambassadors (i.e., new business friend) can possibly remember and repeat that much easier.
Task: write down all of your buzzwords and service offerings on the left hand side of the paper. On the right side, outline in a sentence or less how you solve problems based on that service.
Learn how to share your story without a word
I recently had a call with a colleague looking for advice on how to build a brand that would attract customers. We talked for an hour and never hit the surface but what I shared was that you have to discover the ways that you tell your story without speaking aloud. So what does that mean? That means it’s time to take a look at how you show up to the world – from your clothes, to your social media posts, to your partnerships, to the way you walk into a room. Those all matter. And they must be consistent. Do you want to be hired as an executive leadership coach? What story are you telling by showing up with a suit that doesn’t fit or a notebook that is falling apart? More than likely people will read that you aren’t very together so how can you get others together.
Task: take inventory of your stuff – wardrobe, social media, friends, and so forth, and review it like your consumer might. If there are any “holes” in your story, then work to fill them with content – nonverbal too - that will showcase a more accurate and authentic viewing of who you are.
Ask other people how they describe you / work
I have a friend who was working on a rebrand and she asked me such a simple, yet hard for me, question. “How would you describe me to others?” I stumbled because I knew all the pretty words I wanted to say but she stopped me and told me to stop overthinking. I answered the question and she agreed with my assessment and even said she’d heard it before. Now, she’s living out that rebrand. What I love is that 1) she realized that the market was changing and she needed feedback outside of herself to make a smart transition and 2) she wasn’t scared of the answer. People will be honest with you; you just have to ask.
Task: ask three people from your personal board of directors (or establish your BOD and then ask) how they would describe you to someone else. You might even go a step further and document exactly what they say so that you can incorporate some of it into your story.
I hope this helps you craft and share your story as you meet many amazing people along the way. Remember, they can become your PR team if you give them the tools.