The Elevator Speech
A number of years ago, when I was training with a group of salespeople, I was taught how to make an “elevator speech.” The concept was simple. Be prepared to share in a few sentences, and in around thirty seconds or less, what you were all about. Disciplining ourselves to cut out all that was unnecessary, we learned to describe ourselves in a few succinct sentences. The purpose was to allow us to quickly engage with potential clients, customers and business associates in a positive, professional and memorable manner. In this way we narrowed the margin for errors we might make when we were trying to make a good first impression. No more rambling about our past. No more hesitation and awkward silences. We learned to present a straight delivery of the goods. The result was that potential customers became more responsive, as did potential business associates like lawyers and accountants.
Social media has brought a new twist to the idea of the elevator speech. It is now possible to have your key information, and so much more viewable online and accessible to potential employers and customers. This means that individuals have an opportunity to market themselves in a way that was previously unthinkable. Everyone knows who Nike, Adidas, Coke and Kellogg’s are as they are enormously successful corporate brands who have successfully marketed their businesses. Experience tells us that people gravitate towards well marketed brands. According to Clifton and Simmons, “Brands have been successful because people want them; and every organization’s need to protect its reputation (and so its corporate value) is a rather efficient impetus for them to behave well.” (Clifton, Simmons, 2003) You too, can develop your own personal brand by marketing yourself online. Social networks allow you to advertise your products and skills, share your personal achievements and career highlights all in one location, perhaps even putting yourself in prime position for that dream job offer that you always thought was out of reach. The downside is that, poorly managed, social media networks can damage your personal brand, harm your reputation, and even destroy your career! It is vital then, that your personal brand should present you as professional, irreproachable, an expert in your field and a person of honesty and integrity.
Which Social Networks Should I Use?
LinkedIn is the destination of choice for a strong personal presence online. Long known as the preferred social network, LinkedIn allows you to showcase your strengths in an attractive format. Make your LinkedIn account the hub that is at the heart of your online branding and link here from other social networks. You can post your resume, build a portfolio, connect with contemporaries, and decision makers, manage your contacts and essentially present your best side to the world 24/7.
Use Twitter to promote your latest blog posts, articles, photos, projects and other activities. Tweet about your professional activities and from events where you are present. If you are making a public speech or presentation, tweet about it. Link your Twitter account to your LinkedIn account
If you regularly make speeches and presentations that are recorded, you can post them on YouTube and link back to your LinkedIn account. If you have a strong on screen presence, consider setting up your own channel and making professional videos that will enhance your online reputation.
Don’t be too casual about what you post to Facebook. If you are trying to present yourself as a media savvy business manager and then post unfortunate pictures of yourself getting crazy drunk when hanging out with the guys, you are asking for trouble. Make sure that you have your permissions set carefully so that only those people that are in your inner friends and family circle can see any pictures or comments that might project you in a bad light in the business world. Better yet, think carefully before you post anything that might come back to haunt you. Consider setting up a separate, professional page for career purposes and only post what is going to enhance your image.
Many professionals find that establishing a blog relating to their chosen field helps advance their career For example, if you are an accountant, you may wish to develop a weekly blog that focuses on accounting topics relevant to your clients and potential clients. WordPress and Blogger are two of the most well known but there are others that may meet your specific needs.
There are other networks that you may find beneficial to use depending on your career focus. Pinterest, Instagram, Vimeo, to name but a few, can help you in your personal branding quest. Do an internet search for best network tools for your chosen career and you may find sites that are especially suited to your needs.
Personal branding is, at its essence, marketing yourself to others. It has the potential to bring untold benefits, if it is done well. Personal branding done poorly can bring failures, pain, sorrow and even loss of employment. As our world rapidly moves online it is becoming increasingly important to do personal branding well. Larry Weber puts it succinctly when he says, “Brand value is determined by customers.” (Weber 2007) Although Larry was not specifically referring to personal branding, his statement, I believe, also holds true in this context. The value of your personal brand is something that our clients will determine, not we ourselves. For your future welfare it is of paramount importance to ensure that the brand that is you is also one that is highly valued by others.
Clifton, Rita, and John Simmons. “Introduction.” Brands and Branding. Princeton: Bloomberg, 2003. 1. Print.
Weber, Larry. Marketing to the Social Web: How Digital Customer Communities Build Your Business. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2007. 33. Print.