You arrive at a networking event excited about meeting some new people and mingling with fellow professionals of influence. But as the evening carries on you find most of the conversations rather dry and not as engaging as you’d hope. Every time you ask someone “So what do you do?” you receive a snore-worthy recount of their work history – in chronological order – from first job to last job. You’re not at all impressed with hearing their verbal resume. You’re bored to tears while still holding out hope and listening for something, anything of interest to grab onto. After a few head nods and forced smiles you politely excuse yourself and realize that you’ll likely never make use of their business card.
Many professionals are lacking a well crafted and compelling professional story and are therefore making the huge mistake of becoming a walking talking resume of work history.
Your resume may be on point. Your skills may be bar none. But can you answer “What do you do?” or “Tell me about yourself?” in a compelling way? This is an often overlooked yet critical component of a polished professional brand.
Why Your Story Matters
You are more than your skillset.
You are more than your job title at XYZ Company.
You are a living, breathing, hard working individual, fueled by a passion, purpose or goal. You have experiences that have shaped and developed you into the professional you are today. You have motivations that drive what you do. You have a unique talent or offering that has brought value (or has the potential to) to a workplace. And that is your story.
Not your resume. Not who you worked for. Not even your laundry list of accomplishments. It’s all of the other smaller yet grander details that add flesh to your credentials and make you stand out in a crowd.
That’s why having a well crafted professional story matters.
How to Craft Your Story
According to the Harvard Business Review, to develop a good professional narrative, you should think back to your early years – even earlier than your first job. Reflect on what makes you, you! Ask yourself the following questions:
What do I gravitate towards naturally?
What activities do I lose myself in?
What do I talk about all the time?
What do I love to read?
What themes do you pick up on when you answer these questions? These themes can you help you further understand yourself. To begin crafting your story, connect these discoveries to what you do now or want to do.
This simple exercise will take you from saying things like:
“My first job out of school was…”
“I worked for several years in…”
“I’m most driven and motivated by…”
“I do my greatest work when…”
What To Do Next
Carve out 15-minutes right now to use your cheat sheet complete the exercises. Be sure to also answer the questions in this post. Then share your discoveries with me! I want to hear the beginnings of your compelling professional story. Share it in comments and I promise to reply!