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10 Tips for Talking Yourself Up

January is traditionally a time of reckoning, when people consider whether they are really happy in their current position or if they should start looking around for something new.

I've noticed that many of my clients are quite reluctant to talk about their qualifications and significant achievements or even to admit them, let alone put them into a CV.

The main reason for this seems to be that they don't know how to talk about themselves authentically without seeming to appear arrogant or simply big-headed.

Below are 10 tips for broadcasting your talents and your personal brand values on a regular basis without feeling uncomfortable or pushy.

  1. Make it clear how what you do adds value for others. Have a short but memorable sentence rehearsed that expresses clearly what you can do so that if someone has a particular problem they know you can solve, they immediately think of you. You will be the 'go-to' person for that particular issue. Make it short, interesting and impactful.
  2. Make it hard to be forgotten once you've been introduced at any event. Networking can be one of the hardest and most tedious requirements of raising personal awareness. Once you have done all the hard work and managed to attract attention from your target market, make sure you give enough interesting information so that the listener will want to hear more from you -- to set up another meeting, or to pitch an idea. There is no need to sell on the spot -- that's anathema to most people -- but arouse curiosity and interest in your expertise. Don't waste any opportunities.
  3. Walk the talk. Meet your potential client's expectations and demonstrate your abilities. If, say, your expertise is in personal branding, you can't look scruffy and behave erratically. If you're in finance make sure your own accounts are in order. If you're an IT whiz then demonstrate it in your actions and express it through a brilliant website.
  4. Show them what you're good at. Have stories to tell about successes in your business. People don't think in bullet points, so interest people with tales of projects won and their outcomes. Grow your reputation in the media and through your own blogs for what you're good at.
  5. Be proud of what you do. If you aren't passionate about your work and are in any way embarrassed about it then, when you are asked about your job you will risk coming across as negative and draining. Even if you aren't in the ideal job, stay positive when talking about it and keep your eyes open for opportunities. People are drawn to confident and happy people.
  6. There will always be doubters. You will always come across people at any level who will have a 'Doubting Thomas' attitude. Stay positive, believe in what you are trying to achieve and allow yourself to be delighted when they are proved wrong.
  7. People don't buy because you are selling -- help them find what they want. If a man needs a 5mm hole in a piece of wood, he needs to find a 5mm drill-bit, but what he wants is just the hole. Become an expert on what it is your market needs and then demonstrate how you will be useful to them and meet their needs. Once they have seen the relevance, your position is secure.
  8. People make buying decisions emotionally. Let people feel your emotion. Sure, explain the rational part of your business, but they people will be far more involved with you if you are more emotive in describing examples of where you have been involved. "Challenge, action, result" stories leave the listener far more connected to you. They'll be more likely to remember you and pass on your stories to others they meet who may be experiencing similar problems.
  9. Tell them everything. Because we do our jobs on a regular basis, we sometimes take our unique talents for granted. Most people who are experts in their fields will feel this way, and the talent seems to come naturally, so isn't it the same for everyone? No, it's not. Make sure that those who can use your abilities are fully aware of all the added value you are bringing.
  10. Build your brand through 2010 and going forward. Broadcast your personal brand in every possible way. Make it clear and consistent, so that your unique skills and strengths are recognisable. Become known as an expert 'talking head' by the press, write a regular blog, offer to speak at events, always look well dressed and appropriate for your business and deliver a warm, confident, professional and likeable profile. Alongside practising the other hints in this column, 2010 should be a memorable year.
(Photo: See-ming Lee, CC2.0)
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