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How To Create A Memorable Elevator Pitch

What type of reaction do you get when you introduce yourself at a conference, meeting or networking event? So much has been written about the elevator pitch yet most people still have a hard time making it sound compelling, authentic and memorable.

I attended an event a few weeks ago and was surprised at how people described themselves when asked about their job or business. It was as if they had memorized a speech – not a long one of course because this was their elevator pitch, but they sounded canned and well rehearsed. Needless to say, they weren’t memorable.

If you are doing something you enjoy and are good at, describing it to anyone else should be easy; it should flow. And even more importantly, it should excite or create interest in the listener. Instead these descriptions sounded as if they were reading a label describing the contents of some packaged food product. Even worse were some of the catch phrases like – “problem-meister” – cute but could be off-putting to some.

When deciding on what to include in your introduction, think in terms of what you want them to remember about you. Here are some ideas you might want to include.

Your Introduction Should Answer These Questions

- What you do?

- Who you do it for?

- What are your deliverables (the pain points you eliminate)?

- Why should I hire or use you?

You Want To Tell Them Why

Adding some insight into who you are and why you do what you do provides an excellent foundation for connecting with other people. We always look for some commonality when we meet someone new. Sharing a passion or interest, especially if it relates to what you do opens the door for further conversation. So answer:

- What am I passionate about?

- How does my work help me feed that passion?

- What makes me feel good about what I do?

Give Them Results – Validation

- How has my experience enabled me to be successful in the work I do?

- How does the work I do satisfy my clients’/company’s needs and goals?

Be Genuine

Authenticity is magnetic. If what you say is genuine, this will elicit further questions not only about your service or work, but about you as well.

Mix It Up

Whenever I introduce myself, I have a different way of saying it each time. Although there are points I want to make, by not memorizing a script it’s more authentic and can be geared specifically to the audience I am addressing. By trying out different introductions I get a much better sense of what resonates with my audience.

Now give it try and put more of yourself into your introduction or pitch.

Need help strengthening your brand positioning? Whether you’re looking for a job or seeking a promotion, and you want to take control of your career, let’s talk about how I can help. Contact me.


Personal Branding on Steroids: Networking That Works FOR You

Mary Rosenbaum | February 24th, 2015 | posted in Careers, Networking, career advice, career management, job seekers, leadership, personal brand management

Networking is at the root of a lot of the work I do with clients, whether they are looking for a job, seeking career advancement, or want to increase their client list. Effective networking is Personal Branding on steroids. The more people know what you do and how you do it, the more you become known for your areas of expertise.

What I have found is that most of us disregard an entire group of people when we think about spreading our personal brand – our family and friends. Many of us tend to regard our family and friends differently than we do our “professional network.” Yet this is the group that has the potential to be our best brand ambassadors.

What do I mean by that? This example should help clear this up:

I was visiting with friends some time ago and inquired about someone they had known for years who had recently gone into consulting. It took them many attempts to try to identify what specialty their friend provided. They finally gave up and admitted that they really didn’t know. What if I was someone who could use this person’s services or be able to refer him to someone I knew that might need what he provides. But that will never happen.

Are your family and friends good ambassadors for letting others know what you do professionally, what your goals are, or what you are trying to achieve? Our expanded network includes not only the people we know but extends to those known to our immediate network. Just look at your LinkedIn numbers and you’ll see the scope of how your potential professional network exceeds your immediate contacts.

And with family and friends, we often overlook what I call “low hanging fruit” because we put them into different categories than we do our professional contacts.

It is important to communicate and define your brand to those you are close to in addition to those you know professionally. An integral part of personal branding is communicating what you want others to know about you and to brand those ideas and words in the minds of others so when they describe you to people they know, those are the words that will come to mind.

In providing your friends and family with information, it would be beneficial to:

  • Give them a detailed description of the type of work you do, the skills you employ in your work, the companies or industries you have worked for or the type of projects you have completed. Tell those stories that “show” your skills and that’s what they will remember.
  • Provide them with an understanding of what you need – if it’s a job or a role you want to play within an organization, be specific as to what you want to do (not only the title you want), if it’s clients you want then what type of clients would be suitable.
  • Let them know what your qualifications are so they have a clear picture of who you are, and consequently, they can more easily convey your expertise to others.

You need to let them know what you are good at, what makes you good at it (your validation), who you work with or for, and what you want or need. Don’t overlook the value of this type of “word of mouth” advertising. So go ahead, ask your friends if they can describe you in a way that conveys your expertise as well as your needs and wants. If not, get to work and spread the word.


Personal Branding: What You Do Is Only A Small Part of Your Story

Mary Rosenbaum | February 6th, 2015 | posted in Personal Branding, career advice, job seekers, personal brand management

An important part of your personal brand is your story. The most difficult part of defining your personal brand is unearthing and then communicating what makes you good at your job, why you stand out, and what propels you to do what you do.

Each of us has a unique story – one that helps us stand out.

Some time ago I worked with a young woman, a daughter of a friend of mine, who was a senior at a high-ranking university. She was able to get great first interviews during on-campus interview season. Her problem was she rarely made it to a second interview and couldn’t figure out why.

Compared to her fellow students who were getting those call backs, she had similar grades and had taken the same courses as they did. She thought that her lack of professional experience during her college summers held her back. She had chosen to travel extensively each summer rather than “pay her dues” and work as a summer intern in the financial industry (her preferred career choice).

That wasn’t her problem.

What we identified as an issue was her inability to create a cohesive story that would encourage an interviewer to want to know more about who she was and what she had to offer. There was nothing about her story that made her memorable- and standing out was critical given the sheer number of interviews companies scheduled each day they were on campus. Her story, or lack of story, made her forgettable.

Through our work together she realized that she was more than just the courses she took and the grades she earned. That even someone without work experience has experiences that build and exemplify initiative, creativity, leadership, flexibility, resilience, and intuitiveness – each of which are highly valued by prospective employers.

Once we delved deeper into her life and her experiences, we were able to add some color to how she represented herself. Some of the experiences we drew from included:
-  She was President of her sorority.

-  As President, she initiated and executed on a variety of fund raising programs for local charities.

-  She ran the sorority’s finance committee.

- Through her summer travels she learned how to navigate the world, deal with some adverse situations, communicate with people of different cultures, and come to understand that people of other cultures respond to a variety of behaviors in very different ways.

We took these experiences and fleshed them out into stories that highlighted the soft skills that so many employers want. These stories coupled with her strong academic credentials provided interviewers with a more interesting candidate. She gave them enough information so they had greater insight into who she was, what she might have to offer, and how she stood out from her competitors. Her story of growing up in NYC leading up to her desire to work in finance was cohesive, informative and differentiating.

As a professional, you have many experiences to draw from but never forget that your story is comprised of all your experiences and serves as a differentiating factor in how and why you do what you do. Your story should provide us with a glimpse of your character –your passions, your motivators, your values – and how these impact your professional life.

STAND OUT and BE MEMORABLE!

Need help standing out, contact me.


Personal Branding: What’s So Special About You?

This question is top of mind of every recruiter, hiring manager, and current manager. When you are interviewing for a job or sitting down for a performance evaluation, you have to be able to articulate what makes you different or special as compared with others in your field of expertise. If you can’t, you won’t get what you want.

It sounds like a simple question but it’s much more complex than what you might think. Most people usually answer with what you would expect – a great definition of the skills necessary to do a good job in their current position. But the real answer would focus on those skills, attributes, abilities, and talents that enable you to achieve a result that makes you standout from your competition. How and why do your results surpass the competition? What do you do that’s over the top that enables you to be successful? Can you demonstrate that there is a correlation between those actions and your success?

The answer to this question is the essence of your personal brand – the something special you are known for, it’s the reason people hear about you, it’s why recruiters call you, it’s why you get the choice assignments and promotions and clients.

My friend Tamara is an outstanding insurance salesperson. She has built a unique business that she defines as client-centric. What makes Tamara standout is her ability to build lasting relationships with people across a wide variety of demographics in a genuine and committed way. Through her actions, Tamara demonstrates time and again that she wants to help her clients find solutions that work for them, not necessarily for her. This fits well with her passion for solving problems and puzzling out complex and unique solutions, not just for the sake of her bottom line. Because she delivers on her promise, her honesty and her sincerity are taken at face value.

One of the most telling examples of how she built her success is the blurring of lines of friendship when trying to distinguish between the professional and the personal. Tamara has a strong personal brand.

As you can see, I never mentioned that she has all the requisite skills necessary for someone to be successful in her industry because that’s a given. It’s the tablestakes without which she wouldn’t even be in the game. My focus is on what makes Tamara special – and as a result, makes her highly successful.

So how about you? What makes you stand out? Can you define the essence of your personal brand?

Do you need help positioning yourself? Let’s talk.


Resumes That Work

Mary Rosenbaum | September 16th, 2014 | posted in Careers, Job Search, Personal Branding, career advice, career management, job seekers

Do you believe that having a strong resume is important in landing a job or an interview? If you answered yes, then it’s time to rework your resume.

Although this post is geared toward job seekers, I believe that everyone would benefit from a resume redo once a year. Whether you are looking for a job or are content in your current position, it’s always a good idea to go through the exercise of writing your resume. Why? Because it’s important to you have a clear understanding of what you have to offer, what your expertise is, what successes need to be highlighted, and how to best represent yourself to others.

In reworking your resume think of yourself as the Product. And if that’s the case then your resume, along with your collateral materials, have to reflect your product’s personal brand. Gone are the days when your resume used words such as:

  • responsible for
  • managed
  • handled
  • led

Instead, your resume should be much more focused on your major accomplishments and the value you add for your employer. It should be skills focused and success oriented with quantitative results used whenever possible that demonstrate your impact on revenue generation, cost reduction, team building, problem solving, and relationship building.

Hard skills (years of experience, education) are what get you in the game. It’s the soft skills (accomplishments, how you work) that provide the differentiating factors when decisions are made between who to bring in for an interview and which resumes to delete.

Think of how you can “show” rather than “tell” your story. For example, if you led a team through a particular project, rather than state that you led a team on Project A, start with the result, the impact, and the benefit to your company.

A strong resume speaks to an employer’s needs and demonstrates how you can help them.

When putting together your branded resume, try to answer the following questions:

  • What are my assets? Hard and soft skills, job and life experiences, education, extra-curriculars.
  • What are my greatest successes? Quantitative examples should be used here to validate.
  • How am I different/better than my competitors? For example: language skills, international experience, awards, promotions, education.
  • What do I bring to the job/company that is unique? Brainstorm with others: co-workers, coach, managers, mentors.
  • What are the prospective employer’s greatest needs and how does what I offer help them? This is a great place to “show” by using examples.
  • What weaknesses or shortcomings do I have that might prevent me from getting the interview/job? How can I ameliorate them?

Your resume should be geared to the particular job for which you are applying. The more tailored your resume, the more time you spend customizing it, the better your chances at getting that call you’re waiting for.

Have any questions? Contact me.


Is It Dumb Luck Or By Design?

Mary Rosenbaum | July 9th, 2014 | posted in Careers, career advice, career management, personal brand management

I overheard a conversation on the train recently and it went something like this:
“He was just lucky. It was a cold call and he had no idea this would turn into such a huge client. Just dumb luck.”

I believe that we create our own luck.

The odds of winning the lottery are 175 million to 1. The odds of an average golfer making a hole in one are 12,500 to 1 and a tour professional at 2,500 to 1.

People call these events luck.

I agree that winning the lottery is luck. There is very little skill involved in picking the numbers of a series of balls falling through a hole in a machine. It’s terrific if you win, but skill has nothing to do with it.

I define luck (with the exception of the lottery) as opportunity meeting preparedness.

I made a hole in one a couple of weeks ago. I am not a tour professional.

Although there is some luck involved in getting a hole in one, being able to hit the ball properly requires a lot of practice. Knowing which club to hit depending on the distance to the hole requires experience. Understanding how the wind, or lack of wind, affects the ball’s trajectory impacts the selection of the right golf club and that knowledge comes with practice and experience. And yes, the final ingredient is landing the ball in just the right place so it rolls right into the hole. Luck is part of the equation, but not the sole ingredient.

Your career success is made up of a series of events. Being introduced to the right people, getting the right job, getting selected for the right assignments, finding the right mentors/sponsors, being at the right place at the right time – all of these are a combination of skill, experience, planning, and yes, luck. But luck alone doesn’t take you far – without the experience, the knowledge, and the skills it would be difficult to make anything meaningful of the opportunity being presented. Additionally, unless you can provide value and a positive experience for those you work with and for, the “lucky” opportunity quickly fades into memory.

Being there when a door opens is the direct result of putting yourself in that location in the first place. Through careful planning and career management, knowing what you want to do professionally, where you want to go, and what you need once you get there is how you make opportunities come your way so you can then capitalize on them.

As for the “dumb luck” in the opening paragraph, without an effective pitch, this cold call would have gone nowhere. And let’s not forget that the call was actually made, therefore creating the opportunity. And without great service or product (I have no idea what he was selling), this would not have developed into a great client.

Luck = When Being Prepared Meets Opportunity

So how are you creating your own luck?

Want to take control of your career and convert opportunities into successes? Contact me.


Career Acceleration Tips:Visibility and a Strong Personal Brand

Mary Rosenbaum | June 20th, 2014 | posted in Careers, Personal Branding, career advice, career management, personal brand management

Getting people to know who you are and what you can do – inside and outside your organization – is one of the key ways to move your career forward. Yet it is probably one of the hardest things to accomplish.

Being good at what you do is great. But unless other people – especially those that have control over your upward movement in your company and those that have reach within your industry – know about you, your career can get stalled.

An often-used approach by many professionals is to “cc” managers on those emails that highlight the work they are doing and the progress they are making. Yes, this definitely helps, especially if those managers read all their email. But there are more proactive ways to spread the word and make yourself more memorable.

Based on my professional experience what I see work is:
INCREASED VISIBILITY + STRONG PERSONAL BRAND = BETTER CAREER PROSPECTS

I won’t focus here on the social media aspects of gaining visibility here. My focus is on the face-to-face contact that sets off viral word of mouth buzz. Here are some ways to gain visibility while at the same time define your personal brand.

WOW THEM

Aim higher. I’m not saying that you don’t do a great job all the time, but there are many times when you should be aiming for even higher. Presenting at a meeting or attending a meeting? The questions you ask and the comments you make should spotlight not only your knowledge but should provide insight into how you think. Are you creative, thoughtful, analytical, resourceful, or flexible? This is the time to stand out and be noticed not only for the value you bring but also for your unique way of doing it.

SHOUT IT OUT

Join professional organizations where you can actively participate in managing and growing your extended network. Join the leadership group and actively participate in any way that makes you more visible to members – join committees, spearhead projects, join panels, contribute to newsletters. It’s a great way to brand yourself within your industry.

Participate in outside activities that allow others to see your many sides. Adding other dimensions to your personal brand makes you more likeable and more memorable. Add more color to your personality through a variety of activities like sports, local projects, literary pursuits, artistic passions, language proficiency or any other areas that interest you. Your bonds with your extended network will be deeper and stronger both inside and outside your company and industry.

GIVE A HELPING HAND

Volunteer to be a mentor to someone inside your organization and/or through your professional groups. It’s a great way to brand yourself and grow your exposure while helping others at the same time.

Become a connector. Introduce your professional colleagues and friends to one another.  We all need larger and more focused networks. This will strengthen your personal brand as well as help you increase your own network.

Help others when they need it. We all need a helping hand sometime in our careers, sometimes more than once. By giving freely of your time and your contacts you’re building social capital, strengthening your brand, and doing good.

So work on your visibility, develop a stronger personal brand and you can be sure that you and your career will benefit because of it.

Are you interested in changing jobs, managing your career better, developing a personal brand that works for you and not against you, then let’s talk. Contact me.


Are You A “Nowhere Man”?

I was walking through Central Park the other day and heard a street musician singing “Nowhere Man” by the Beatles. It’s not as if I’ve never heard the words before. In fact, as most people across many different generations, I know the words by heart. BUT, I have never really listened to them. And I know that this song means different things to different people. But if taken literally, they convey a message that resonates with me.

You may know these words well, but read them anyway and then continue reading this post.

He’s a real nowhere man                                                                                                 Sitting in his nowhere land

Making all his nowhere plans for nobody                                                                    Doesn’t have a point of view

Knows not where he’s going to                                                                                        Isn’t he a bit like you and me?

Nowhere Man, please listen                                                                                             You don’t know what you’re missing

Nowhere Man, the world is at your command                                                              He’s as blind as he can be

Just sees what he wants to see                                                                                       Nowhere Man can you see me at all?

Nowhere Man, don’t worry                                                                                              Take your time, don’t hurry

Leave it all till somebody else lends you a hand                                                            Doesn’t have a point of view

Knows not where he’s going to                                                                                         Isn’t he a bit like you and me?……

Aimless, rootless, going nowhere, this is a song about someone who is stuck.

I’m a career management coach and personal branding strategist so my mind goes right to the topic of careers. For me, it brings to mind what a professional with a strong personal brand and good career management skills should have:

1. A strategic plan based on professional goals – know where you are going and create a plan for how to get there. Reach high and set your goals so they are a reach and not a slam dunk.

2.  A strong point of view –strong opinions based on knowledge and experience enable you to stand out from your competitors – you want to be known for something.  So take a stand and stand out.

3.  An ability to see beyond your own vision and accept opinions outside your own. Outside advisors, mentors, colleagues, and sponsors are all great sources of information and feedback. They help you take a step back before you take a step forward.

4.  An understanding that the world is filled with opportunities – and being willing and prepared to capture these opportunities puts you in charge.

5. An awareness of other people, their needs and abilities, and how you can help each other.

6. A strong community of friends, colleagues, and supporters around you – they can help provide you with a rich and happy life. Build and strengthen your tribe.

So let this song be a reminder of what it’s like to be a “Nowhere Man” – and only you can judge – is he a bit like you?

What does this song bring up for you?  Please share.

Want to get unstuck? Contact me.


Not a Born Negotiator? Ways to Create A Win/Win

Are you a born negotiator? Not many of us are. Even if you are good at it, how successful are you when you are negotiating for yourself in situations that are critical to you, your business, and your career as opposed to for your company or your clients?

I know as soon as the negotiation affects me personally, arriving at a compromise is not as easy as when I am arranging a new car lease or buying something from a street vendor. In each of those two situations, I can walk away. I will probably never see or deal with that person again. Neither my emotions nor my ego are invested in the results.

What about negotiations that deal with compensation, employment or client contracts, staffing an important project, or being part of a team? These are personal. The results can reflect on our ability to perform well. The results represent how we define ourselves and the value our employers or clients assign to us. How good are you in these and other situations that are more personal?

The definition of negotiation is a discussion aimed at reaching an agreement. The best possible result would be an agreement that benefits both parties involved. But have you ever been involved in a negotiation where you felt that your “give up” was greater than the other side? If this sounds familiar, ask yourself:

1. Did I ask for enough? Whether it’s asking for increased compensation, a higher fee, improved benefits, more time, additional help, new title or promotion, sometimes a small voice in your head warns you of overreaching, asking for more than you can get or deserve. If this is the case, you have already lost the negotiation before you sit down at the table. Managing your expectations realistically are necessary, but just make sure that you are not limiting yourself because of fear.

2. Did I have enough information? Did I do enough research on my topic? If it’s compensation or fee structure, did I do my homework on comparables? Did I understand the firm psychology and culture? Information provides you with the bargaining strength you need to ask for what you deserve. It also serves as validation for your ask.

3. Did I know what I really wanted the outcome to be? What did I specifically ask for? You need to define what you are willing to give up. What is absolutely non-negotiable? When you walk into that room know how much you can give up without feeling that you are being taken advantage of.

4. Did I communicate my arguments effectively, did I make a clear case? Did I communicate how the other side can benefit if I prevail? Always try to see it from the other side so you can understand their position and make sure your pitch is designed so that their needs are taken into consideration.

5. Did I handle the objections well? Preparation is key to anticipating what the objections might be so you can come up with the right answers that strengthen your case.

Are there other ways you prepare for these types of negotiations? We would love to hear them.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum empowers careerists and entrepreneurs to gain greater clarity and more effectively communicate their unique promise of value. Strong leadership means leading with your strengths. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Need help managing your career, contact me.


Job Change – When Is It Right?

Mary Rosenbaum | March 17th, 2014 | posted in Careers, Job Search, career advice, career management

How do you know when it’s time to change jobs?

When I was an executive recruiter I remember working with a particular candidate who was reluctant to make a job change. He had been in his position for over 5 years, had friends at work, felt he knew what was expected of him, knew the lay of the land, and didn’t want to “create any waves” in his life. He wanted to stay put even though the opportunity I presented would be more challenging, career enhancing, and to top it off, would pay more than what he was earning.

His reluctance to move stemmed from a normal fear of the unknown that blinded him to all the reasons why he should move.

Changing jobs is one of the top ten stress-inducing life events, right up there with death, illness, marriage, divorce, having children, and going to jail.

So it’s easy to understand anyone’s reluctance to change jobs willingly when there appears to be no real need.

Yet, there are often signs that go unnoticed just so we can maintain the status quo and not cause any ripples in our lives. And those signs, if they exist, often lead to a more stressful life situation as work becomes less rewarding – personally, professionally, and financially.

I am not advocating job change and in fact often counsel clients that changing their situation at work should be the first step in improving and taking control of their careers. If that doesn’t work, then a job change might be in order.

Reasons for considering a job change fall into two basic categories: Improving an already positive situation and extricating yourself from a limiting situation.

Improving an already positive situation:

As with my example above, you can be in a job and a company that seems to working just fine. But then along comes an opportunity that could shake things up. What do you do?

If you are successful where you are and have been able to hone your skills and talents, you may be able to leverage this experience and accelerate your career by moving to another firm or even another industry.  Companies look for talented professionals who can introduce alternative solutions for new and recurring problems. An outsider’s viewpoint can be a great way for companies to enhance their existing talent pool.

And oftentimes, it’s a great way for you to move into a more senior role faster than if you stay where you are.

Another positive reason to make a change would be to gain broader exposure to how other companies and industries operate – it expands your knowledge base and makes you even more marketable in the future. It’s a great way to move away from “we have always done it this way” to having a greater variety of options and skills in your toolbox.

In both of these situations, it goes without saying that this works best if you have specific skills and talents that have been developed over a number of years. Job hopping simply to improve your positioning without the requisite depth of experience will not prove to be a successful career maneuver.

Extricating yourself from a limiting situation:

Although it would be great if we could all decide to change jobs because we want to improve an already good situation rather than because we are unhappy where we are. But the reality so many of us find ourselves in situations that limit our career path and make us miserable at work.

Here are a few that should galvanize you into doing something:

- You have been passed over for promotions, choice projects, and other opportunities that would expand your area of expertise.

- You are no longer being challenged by the work – it’s feels more repetitive, less creative, and consequently you feel less motivated.

- You no longer enjoy the work you do – it doesn’t fit with your values or your interests, you no longer feel engaged and it’s harder to get up in the morning.

- You cannot deepen or broaden your sphere of influence – there is a lack of cross-functional exposure, it’s not a collaborative culture, there’s too much internal competition.

- Management does not provide adequate support for the work that needs to be done – staffing, systems, consultants.

- Management sets artificial deadlines as a way of managing their employees creating stress and an unhealthy departmental attitude.

- There seems to be no clear career path – there’s no budget for professional development, they often recruit from outside, there’s a lack of visibility with senior management.

Any of these situations should cause a red light to go off. Your first step should be to try to work on improving your current situation. If that fails, then it might be time to move on.

As for the candidate I was trying to place with my client – he ultimately took the job we were offering and I’m glad to say, he “lived happily ever after.”

Need help assessing your career? Contact me.

Let us know if you have any other reasons that changing jobs might be the right way to go.