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How to Successfully Tell Your Story at a Networking Event
Most people who are looking for a new job know that the majority of employment opportunities are found as a result of networking. And those who have a job, also know that maintaining and expanding their network of contacts is also critical to career success. There are specific things you can do to successfully tell your story at a networking event, so that you are memorable. What is your career story? What makes you valuable to an employer? What makes you stand apart from your peers? What can you say that will make others say, “Tell me more!” The downside is that you have only 15 seconds to make an impression, so you have to make those 15 seconds count.
Before you are able to craft any career story, there are specific things that you have to do first to ensure that the story you tell is memorable, capturing attention long enough to be persuasive, and appropriate for the position that you are interested in. Set aside a couple of hours for reflection.
- Take an inventory of your key strengths and skills.
- What makes you unique? Write down a few things that will make others pause and want to learn more about you.
- What kinds of employment positions are you interested in? And what are the biggest problems and challenges you would be solving in those positions?
- Identify three examples from your past experiences where you effectively used the strengths and skills you identified to solve similar problems and challenges.
- Write vignettes for the situations, the actions you took and the results you achieved, and your examples should also demonstrate that you possess the key skills required in the job posting. You are essentially structuring your story using the SAR (Situation, Action, and Result) technique. But an added twist is to weave in one of the things that make you unique, into your story.
- Practice telling your story to a friend until you sound natural and authentic.
When you are at a networking event, and you are introducing yourself, use the James Bond format. My name is Bond, James Bond, that is, last name, then first name and last name. People are more likely to remember your name when you use that format to introduce yourself. And to continue being memorable, when you are asked, “Tell me about yourself,” choose one of your three vignettes to respond to the question.
Additionally, Michel Neray, a career coach and speaker, has developed what he calls the Essential Message, and the premise is that instead of the elevator pitch, you have a conversation. One of the ways to do that, is to create a situation, where you can respond, “That’s what I do!” So for instance, there may be specific issues in the industry that people are aware of. If you know how to resolve the issues, when asked what you do, create a story around the issues, to engage others, then tell them, that’s what you do. This is another powerful way to successfully tell your story at a networking event.
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