I am a big proponent of thinking before you speak. I don’t do it nearly enough in my personal life – which may explain a lot, like saying things like, “Oh sure, I’ll watch your dog until you find it a home.” – but that is another story.
Back to point: thinking about what you are going to say and how you are going to say it is critical and something I coach my clients in job searching, networking and interviewing.
It is essential to know your message before you can work on the delivery. This is where not thinking is your most powerful tool.
I met with a client yesterday and he asked about how to prepare for a networking event later this week. I asked him what he planned on saying and after he told me I looked at him and said, “No.”
I think he was a little surprised by my response so I asked him if his greatest value was all the letters after his name, as this is how he began his pitch. Light bulb.
So I asked him what he greatest value is that he can bring to an organization. He began giving me the standard phrases common in his industry. This is where the rapid fire began:
Client: “…improve processes and procedures…”
Me: “what does that mean?”
Client: “I can make things more efficient…”
Me: “what does that do for me?”
Client: “I make sure the financial reporting is in order…”
Me: “just in order, that’s it?”
Client: “no, I mean it should be but it is stuff that has to be done that no one likes to do…”
Me: “why do I care?”
Client: “because I do it in a way that no one notices…”
Me: “who does that help”
Client: “the CEOs and leaders, I’m their financial sounding board…”
Client: “I help them make the decisions that make them money and protects them from losing money”
Now we were getting to some value! At first he was a little caught off guard by the rapid fire, but that was the point.
Stop thinking about the phrases that you think are going to sell you and start talking directly to the person in front of you in the down to earth, barebones, most important way that they will understand.
At the end of our conversation he thanked me and said he had never thought about it that way.
It is easy to get lost in the minutia of industry speak, we forget that once we step outside our comfort zone or into networking we are no longer isolated. Not everyone knows our old language. We also loose sight of who we are as an individual and the value that we bring.
Comfort zones isolate us. We also start making assumptions that other people understand what it is we are trying to say. The rest of us have no clue what you are trying to say – you have to spell it out for those of us on the outside of your zone.
Sometimes thinking about your message too much can actually dilute the meaning, effectiveness and delivery. Ever like someone and in trying to tell them you get all flustered in trying to find just the right words so you hem and haw and finally the other person looks at you like you have three heads, throws up their hands in frustration and says, “guess this is going no where.”
Just spit it out.
Some of the best networking pitches I have heard have a bit of humor or are a bit off – they are memorable. Some of the most romantic moments are the spontaneous, blurt it out moments.
Before your next networking or interview take a few moments with someone you trust to do the rapid fire exercise. Keep going until you get to the point where you have your “a-ha” moment and start discovering your true value and find the basis from which to build.
It is not about telling the other person what they want to hear – it is about educating them on your true value and to let them know that you are an incredible person, not a combination of anticipated phrases with no meaning.
Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.