Everyone’s talking about storytelling these days. You may ask yourself, “What does it all mean? How does telling my story benefit me? Do I even have a story, and do I want to share it?"
The answer to all of the above is rather simple, really. It’s what makes you unique, it’s the differentiator between you and someone else, it’s what sets you apart, and makes you interesting. And, yes, you DO have a story. Everyone has a story.
If you take your story into the career realm, you’ll soon realize that it can be effective for your personal brand. To have a personal brand, you don’t need to be a business owner, a corporate executive, a public figure or celebrity; you just need to be your authentic self. You can have a personal brand whether you’re an employee, a manager, a solo-entrepreneur, anyone!
YOU are your brand, your brand IS your reputation, and your reputation is made up of your values, your integrity, and your expertise.
Once you’ve discovered your story and its relevancy to your professional life, it’s a powerful way for others to get to know, like, and trust you. (It’s called the KLT factor.) Your story will reinforce your KLT Factor and they’ll learn about who you are instead of just what you do.
Remember: you’re more than your job title.
This is where your story comes in and where it will make you stand out. If you’re not sure what your story is, consider the following:
Reflect on the college degree you received and the major you studied. Now examine what you’re doing today. If, for example, you graduated with a degree in fine arts, and you’re now in a leadership role within a nonprofit agency, which helps at-risk youth; then ask yourself how you got there? There’s likely a story there about why you went from fine arts to working with at-risk youth. Tell that story and weave it into the fabric of your current role and expertise. I’m certain you had an “A-ha” moment in there somewhere.
What is one thing you really love to do outside of work? Are you a horse lover and ride every chance you get? There’s a story there, too. It might not seem like this would tie into who you are in business but it’s a vital part of you. It’s what excites and nurtures you. I’ll bet there are overlapping skills between learning and becoming a good rider and how you may have applied some of those same skills in your profession.
Perhaps your story is more personal and you or a loved one have suffered from an illness or cancer. Trying times always test our mettle and we discover parts of ourselves we didn’t know we possessed. There’s a lot we learn, which helps us to be more empathetic, and may tie into how we operate in our work lives.
Hopefully, you get the idea. Our stories have shaped us and they can work in our favor once we recognize them and how we can appropriately tie them into our professional selves.
There are many ways you can use your story to represent who you are as a professional. First, identify your story and how you will talk or write about it, and then how you will showcase it online and offline.
Great platforms to present your story online include: LinkedIn, the About Me page (this is a great example) on your website, the description area of your Facebook page (personal or business), and certainly the description of you if you’re a blogger. (But if you’re a blogger, you already know that!)
If you belong to an industry or trade organization, there’s likely a listing of members with a place to insert your bio. Have yours stand out from your peers who’ve likely condensed their resume and submitted it in that formulaic style. I call that the “laundry list” bio. If you have both a long and short version of your professional bio, revise them to reflect more about you as a person and make it relevant to the professional, thought leadership part of you.
If you’re going to be speaking at an event and someone introduces you from the compelling bio you’ve provided, your audience will already be captivated before you’ve even given your speech or presentation. Your audience is hooked, and they’re engaged.
Remember, everyone loves a story. What’s yours?
Navigating today’s world isn’t at all cut and dry, but there is still an audience that needs what you offer and there is still a meaningful way to share your message. If you’re ready to leverage LinkedIn, reach out. I’d be happy to discuss ways I can help.