A guest post by Michael Margolis of GetStoried.com.
Before every critical conference call, meeting, or video Skype, you’ve been googled by the other participants. Each time you’re considered for a position or contract, your digital presence has been scrutinized. What online searchers find will form their picture of the personal brand known as you.
Today, hardly anyone asks for a resumé, and, frankly, that’s because (to paraphrase Rhett Butler) nobody gives a damn. The truth is that you don’t need a resumé anymore.
But you do need a story. A personal brand requires it.
The story you tell about your life, your passion, and your abilities is what makes other people want to connect their network with yours. It’s what drives the creative-genius hiring machine around the planet. (But it’s not about bragging or looking like a self-focused egomaniac.)
Your story should address the following questions.
- Who am I?
- How can I help you?
- How did I get here?
- Why can you trust me?
- What do we have in common?
Trust comes from personal disclosure. And that kind of sharing is hard to convey in a resumé. You need to be able to communicate a bigger story.
If you can tell your story in a way that people instantly identify with and make them nod and say, “I totally get that. I’ve completely been there (or I wish I had)… ” then any need to persuade, convince, or otherwise “sell” yourself is unnecessary.
Here are four key tips for telling your story (and making it awesome), whether for your personal brand or your company’s brand.
1. Be authentic
You don’t have to go all open kimono, but you also don’t want to present a perfectly polished and spin-doctored account of your life story. You may think some things that you’ve done (especially colossal mistakes you’ve made) should be hidden at all cost, but, in truth, people identify with the real you.
2. Share your superhero origins
Provide a back story for your streak of genius. Did you study violin at age 4 with Itzhak Perlman? Was your great-grandmother a pilot? Did you fall in love with cooking while watching Julia Child on television? Pedigree can be established in many ways. Look for the unusual junctures with special people or powerful events that you can connect to your story, and people will remember you—and even find you remarkable—no matter how ordinary you have always considered yourself.
3. Fly your freak flag
What makes you uniquely you? What are your guilty pleasures? What’s the “strange and wonderful” inside you? For example, I’m left-handed, color-blind, and eat more chocolate than the average human. And my TV guilty pleasures are Millionaire Matchmaker and Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. Are you thinking, “Hey, were we separated at birth?” That’s the feeling you want to convey.
4. Share your trophies
You want to balance your story with external validation, so your authority in your arena doesn’t just feel like fairy tales from the land of make-believe. (If your arena is fairy tales from the land of make-believe, get some testimonials from Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and the rest of the gang.) Mention media outlets, recognition, credentials, or other markers that reinforce your “in-demand” success, although be careful not to lead with bragging and boasting. (Bragging can be a total turnoff.) Lead with your story.
Once you begin to craft and share your story in a fresh, powerful way, you’ll not only start to invite interest and engagement but you’ll also begin to find solid footing in your industry. The more you build on the brand that is you, the bigger your chances of attracting exactly the kind of work that you most desire.
(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Two Women Having Coffee)
Michael Margolis is the founder of GetStoried.com and host of the Reinvention Summit 2, the world’s largest online conference on storytelling, being held online April 16-20, 2012. As the dean of Story University, Michael has taught thousands of marketers, change-makers, and entrepreneurs how to tell a bigger story.