But they get stuck…“How do I talk about myself?”
How do I explain everything I do? How do I connect my past experiences? How do I shorten my elevator pitch? Lengthen it? Express my passion, and confidence, with vulnerability and authenticity, while being convincing, and truthful, and appealing, and fun, and serious, and joyful, and clear, but concise, and not cutting myself short, or being too wordy, telling a story but also demonstrating results, and adapting it to the VP of Development, and my neighbor, and the hundreds of other consultants at that networking event, and on my social media, so I sound hip, but also professional…..(insert gasping deep breath here).
I have been there. I often AM there. I’ve filled out at least thirty different worksheets on how to talk about myself, develop a value proposition, create an elevator pitch, describe the indescribable and market myself. Every time I am faced with the question, “So what do you do?” my response is different. And each time I give it, I think there is something I could tweak to make it better. It feels like an impossible task, though no doubt there are gifted people out there who do this for a living. I however, am not one of them.
How can I help my colleagues, and help myself?
While there are probably layers of deep personal reflection to dig up around this, I didn’t feel like isolating myself and journaling. I wanted to do something with my friends, that was fun and empowering. “Strut Your Stuff” is an online event I developed to solve this “I don’t know how to talk about myself” problem. I invited a handful of girlfriends to practice talking about ourselves, our work, our dreams and our passions. It was amazing to hear their stories, to connect the dots of our professional lives, to discover new things about each other, and leave with more confidence. When a participant exclaimed, “when is part two?!” I could not wait to schedule it!
The pilot went well and I was bursting with excitement until I realized I couldn’t possibly invite everyone I wanted to. The format works best with small groups of 4-6 at a time. How could I get more people involved??? I know! Tell people to strut their OWN stuff! Give people the model and invite them to start their own Strut Your Stuff circle! Well, here it is…enjoy!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 4-6 friends or colleagues
- Conference call capabilities (Skype, webex, etc.), or even better, somewhere to meet face to face.
- An invitation (a facebook event, evite, postcard, etc.)
- 2 hours to talk about work, life, skills, hobbies, travels, adventures, big choices, projects, hidden talents and future jobs.
Sample text for your invitation:
Ever wonder what hidden talents your colleagues have? What DID we all do before meeting each other and how might we lean on one another for professional networking in the future? Need support on your job search, marketing message or just being able to explain what you do at your next dinner party? Sign up for my Strut Your Stuff session!
In the session attendees will have 20 minutes each (depending on how many people join) to strut their stuff and get professional consultation from the other participants. During that time each of person will have an opportunity to:
- Identify and share your awesome skills, passions and hidden talents. Practice talking about how all your skills make you valuable. Tell the group your past jobs, volunteer experiences, trips abroad, parties you’ve thrown, events you’ve helped with, hobbies, crafts, groups, communities, books, etc. Anything that paints a picture of YOU, what YOU’re good at and what YOU love. Your colleagues will help you find common threads and tell you what is most exciting about what you said.
- Give and receive help that matters. Get coaching on how to talk about your previous work to attract jobs and clients. See if what you’ve said makes sense and play with different ways of saying it that make someone say, “I HAVE to know more!”
- Discover cool connections you may not have known existed before and consider ways to partner with one another on future projects. Trade secrets and connect your colleagues with other great women.
- Have fun! Build your professional network by sharing rich, authentic conversations.
Through talking about all the things in my life I like to do, colleagues helped me draw connections I didn’t see. For example, one friend asked me, “what are some of the lessons you learned in improv dancing that you can apply to the uncertainty of starting your own business?” Yep, my mind was blown.
Try it out! Have fun. Connect. Let me know what adaptations you make. Strut away!